Fort Nelson residents concerned about bears in the area

Results from the WildSafe BC Human Bear Interactions survey say a lot of respondents are concerned about bears in the area.

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A grizzly bear in a field in front of a rock.
A grizzly bear. (Canva)

FORT NELSON, B.C. — Results from the WildSafe BC Human Bear Interactions survey say a lot of respondents are concerned about bears in the area.

Lisa Lopez, with WildSafe BC, presented the survey results in a regional council meeting on April 24th.

The survey was delivered to Fort Nelson residents from August 26th to October 27th.

About 5 per cent of the population, 172 residents, responded to the survey.

The survey consisted of 44 questions, and the last 11 questions were personal information not included in the results.

“The survey allowed us to measure and better understand the community’s concerns about safety, other risks associated with bears and barriers for managing wildlife attractants,” Lopez said.

The first question in the survey and covered in the results was, “Which of the following best describes your feelings towards bears?”

Over 50 per cent of respondents said they like having bears in the area, with some saying they worry about human safety or the conflicts the bears may cause.

Just over 41 per cent of respondents said they don’t like having bears in the area, and five per cent said they have no particular feeling about bears.

Though 81 per cent of respondents agreed that bears hold an important role ecologically, 73 per cent of respondents also said that bears are a risk to public safety.

The perceived causes of increased bear encounters in the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality include fencing off the landfill, overpopulation, attractants and careless people.

Another question asked was the frequency of bear sightings on their street or property in the past three years, answered by 166 people.

Less than five per cent responded with never, just under 20 per cent said seven to ten sightings. A three-way split of just under 30 per cent for one to three times, four to six times and more than ten times made up the rest of the responses.

WildSafe BC also asked respondents what barriers they experience that prevent them from taking action to prevent bears from accessing their garbage, and over 50 per cent of residents surveyed said they already store their garbage securely indoors.

Lopez said some respondents in the “other” section of the attractant management question felt they are already doing everything possible to deter bears from accessing their garbage.

“They were putting their bird feeder away, they were cleaning up their fruit tree, or they didn’t have fruit trees, they were putting their garbage away, they were only putting it out at that certain time period, they were freezing things that would be smelly before putting it into the garbage,” Lopez said.

The full results of the survey can be viewed below:

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