On average since 2005, five bears per year had to be destroyed due human/wildlife conflict other than in 2015 when 22 bears were destroyed in Fernie alone. So far in 2017, there have been no bears destroyed in Fernie. Thank you to everyone who has made efforts to keep garbage and other attractants inaccessible to wildlife at home and prevent the needless destruction of bears and to those who have taken precautions to prevent human/wildlife conflict in our recreational areas.
A cold spring pushed bears into valley bottoms to look for emerging greenery. We had several reports of grizzly bears and a few of black bears in communities between May and late September this year. The Elk Valley and South Country is very rich grizzly bear habitat in close proximity to human developments. Although tourism, trail use and development continue to increase, there has been a significant decrease in human caused bear mortality in 2017.
To date this year two grizzly bears were destroyed by residents in defence of property. One grizzly bear in Elkford, three black bears in Rosen Lake, one black bear in Tie Lake and two cougars in Fernie had to be destroyed by the Conservation Officers due to human/wildlife conflict. Overall the number of Problem Wildlife Occurrence Reports (PWOR’S) was low in residential areas and this can be attributed to a good berry crop and increased awareness regarding the management of wildlife attractants. However, there was an increase in PWOR’s involving incidents between people and wildlife in recreational areas. A mountain biker was bluff charged by a grizzly and cubs four times, a number of hikers reporting being bluff charged by grizzlies and cubs on popular trails, a hunter was attacked by a grizzly bear and several cougar sightings were reported on a popular trail and eventually had to be destroyed.
As the Elk Valley and South Country continue to grow and develop so does the importance of keeping garbage and other attractants inaccessible to wildlife, continuing educational efforts, promoting responsible trail use, enforcing bylaws and ensuring new developments remain safe for people and wildlife. Thank you to our sponsors, partners, volunteers and all the residents and visitors who made an effort this season to remove wildlife attractants from their properties and to prevent human/wildlife conflict in recreational areas.
The WildSafeBC program will be going into hibernation until the spring. Let’s keep working together to keep wildlife wild and communities safe.