British Columbians urged to be ‘Bear Aware’ heading towards hibernation season

Photo by Luke Jones, Flickr

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The province is reminding residents to use common sense with bears as they search for food to get them through winter hibernation.

The warning comes just over a week after a mother bear and three cubs were spotted near the Humpty’s restaurant in Fort St. John last week.

The most effective way to reduce human-wildlife interactions is to secure food attractants, such as garbage. “Bear Smart” communities such as Whistler, Squamish, Lions Bay, and Kamloops that properly manage those attractants have seen significant declines in bear conflict calls and the number of bears destroyed.

There are a number of steps that residents in urban areas can do to reduce the potential to attract bears, such as:

  • Using bear-proof waste containers or keep garbage secured until pickup day, and returning the containers to a secure site once they are emptied.
  • Picking ripe and fallen fruit daily and removing unused fruit trees.
  • Only using bird feeders in winter and keeping the ground free of seeds and nuts.
  • Cleaning barbecue grills after each use, and storing them in a secure area.
  • Bringing pet food and food dishes inside.
  • Using electric fencing to protect attractants such as small livestock, backyard chickens, beehives, compost bins and fruit trees.

If residents spot a bear, they are advised to remain calm, keep away from the bear and bring children and pets indoors, if possible. People should never approach a bear and should not run from it, as bears can move very quickly. Once a bear has left the area, residents should check their yards to ensure there are no attractants available.

To report any wildlife interactions, call the Report All Poachers and Polluters, or RAPP hotline at 1 (877) 952-7277.