FORT NELSON, B.C. — A BC Conservation Officer shared statistics on black bears in Fort Nelson, and that bear conflicts are low in the community during a committee of the whole meeting last week.
The statistics examined bear complaints, sightings, attractants and complaint outcomes from January 1st, 2019, to June 30th, 2023.
Complaint statistics show the number of calls that came into the Report All Poachers and Polluters line, or RAPP.
The BCCOS also looked at bear sightings, which were consistent from 2019 to 2022.
The conservation officer said the bear sighting statistic only included a sighting of a black bear and did not include attractants or conflict.
Attractants were considered in other statistics, which included garbage, residential fruit trees or berries, pet food, pets, barbecue, compost, residential vegetable garden, livestock, livestock feed, hunter kills, campground food, freezer, other and “not applicable.”
According to the officer, ”not applicable” means the bear is displaying normal behaviour in an environment where a bear is expected to be.
The BC Conservation Officer Service shared the three ways black bear complaints could conclude: destroyed by BCCOS, translocated, or short-distance relocated.
The officer said the number of bears destroyed over the years is extraordinarily low compared to other communities.
Kim Eglinski, WildSafe Community Coordinator, also presented at the meeting to discuss WildSafe’s efforts.
As a community coordinator, she does door-to-door outreach, presentations, workshops, community events, garbage tagging, WildSafe business pledges and a Bare Campsite program.
Eglinski says residents can share the landscape with bears, as they will likely move through the community to access natural food sources.
“It’s when those bears stop, they find human-provided foods, they can become food conditioned,” Eglinski said.
“Once a bear starts equating humans to food, they lose that natural wariness that they have, and they become habituated, and that is when things change a little bit, and it gets a little bit more dangerous.”
During her presentation, the community coordinator mentioned the importance of putting garbage bins in a safe spot until the day they are meant to be picked up because they are a bear attractant.
She also discussed the Fruit Gleaning Project, which was established in 2021 and initially run by the BCCOS, WildSafe BC and one volunteer. The project is now run by the Fort Nelson Friendship Centre.
“Basically, if you have an abundance of fruit that you can’t pick, [the friendship centre] will match people who are looking for fruit and send them to your property or vice versa so that we don’t have any wasted food and we don’t have any fruit on the trees for bears to get,” Eglinski said.
Some fruit will also go to the Fort Nelson Food Bank.
To volunteer, have fruit picked or to pick fruit, call 250-774-2993 extension 1012.
Eglinski’s full presentation can be viewed below: