A great berry crop, community initiatives (bear resistant dumpsters and fruit tree harvesting programs), increased awareness (child and adult educational programs) and a high bear mortality rate in 2015 where more than thirty food conditioned and habituated bears had to be destroyed have all contributed to an overall reduction in human wildlife conflict in the Elk Valley and South Country in 2016.
Although the total number of Problem Wildlife Occurrence Reports, calls to the Conservation Officer Hotline, has decreased, the proportion of Grizzly bear calls has increased. There have been five human caused non-hunting grizzly bear deaths caused by car and train collisions, control kills due to human/bear conflict and illegal kills. Five habituated food conditioned black bears had to be destroyed in 2016, two in Fernie and three in Sparwood.
A new University of Alberta study by PhD candidate Clayton Lamb has found the Elk Valley has effectively become an ecological trap, where human development in close proximity to attractive berry crops resulted in a 17% lower survival rate for Grizzly bears. According to Lamb “Non-hunting deaths — like those caused by road, rail and human-bear interactions — are harder to regulate and will require much more education and behavioural adjustments.”
We have chosen to live in wildlife habitat. Thank you to everyone who has made efforts to remove wildlife attractants from their properties and prevent human/wildlife conflict when out in recreational areas. The end result has been a significant reduction in wildlife mortality caused by human-wildlife interactions. The WildSafeBc program will be in hibernation until May 2017. We look forward to continue working with residents and visitors to ensure that wildlife stays wild and communities stay safe.