Speaking Bear. Understanding bear behaviour will enable you to respond appropriately during a bear encounter.

elkford brown bearsThe following article by the Crowsnest Conservation BearSmart program explains bear behaviour and body language.  Next time you encounter a bear, think about what message the bear is conveying and respond accordingly.

Speaking Bear

By Crowsnest Conservation BearSmart

 

Bears convey information to each other through body language, vocalizations and odour signals. During encounters with people, they will respond and signal their intentions just as they would to any other bear. A better understanding of how bears communicate will decrease your likelihood of a negative encounter or a misinterpreted interaction.

 

Body Language – Even among grizzly bears, who are typically more assertive in their responses to threats, bears have evolved a language of dominance and submission to “work things out” with little physical contact.

 

Submissive behaviour occurs when a bear walks away from an encounter, sits or lies down or, in the case of black bears, climbs a tree. This behaviour says the bear does not want to challenge for the carcass, the female, etc. Similarly, a bear who yawns, looks away, and remains motionless is indicating that he wants to be left alone. Dominance can be indicated by continued approach at a walk or run. A bear encountering a new or unknown situation may stand up on its hind legs to better assess their surroundings: this is normal, information gathering behaviour and not a sign of aggression.

 

A nervous or fearful bear will often indicate so by lunging forward, slapping the ground or a nearby object, and blowing loudly or snapping its teeth. Sometimes the blowing takes on a guttural quality that sounds almost like a growl but the behaviour should instead be interpreted as a warning from an uneasy bear to move away. Less commonly, the bear will bluff charge by running full-tilt at the threat but stopping just short of contact. Such bears are feeling very agitated and this can escalate to a potentially dangerous situation (especially with grizzly bears) if the threat is not removed (i.e., back away quickly but do not run).

 

Vocalizations – Bears typically do not vocalize often, though vocal communications are more frequent between mothers and cubs and are more common from black bears than from grizzly bears.

Grunts and tongue clicks are used in friendly interactions between bears like mom/cubs, mates, and playmates. Cubs also produce a pulsing motor-like hum when nursing.

 

Woofing (loud blowing of air through nose or mouth), huffing, and jaw popping or chomping generally indicate fear, nervousness, or apprehension on the part of the bear rather than an effort to threaten or a precursor to an attack. While the explosive sounds and associated behaviour (e.g., swatting the ground) may look threatening, the bear is telling you it feels uncomfortable, thereby giving you the opportunity to diffuse the situation by retreating. Threatened bears do not roar like in the movies!

 

The highest intensity vocalizations are expressed with an almost human-like voice and are used when in pain (bawling), in fear (moaning, cub distress squeal), in combat (bellowing), or when seriously threatened (deep-throated pulsing sound). A bear that is predatory and stalking does not make a sound but rather focuses intently in silence.

Scent-marking – This often occurs on trees when bears stand on their hind legs and rub their backs and shoulders to leave scent and hair. The behaviour broadcasts information on the identity, age, and sex of individual bears in the vicinity and the breeding condition of females. Male bears may also bite or claw at trees to communicate dominance during the breeding season. The same trees are used repeatedly over many years. So while the human nose can’t glean the same information as a local bear, the presence of such bear rub trees can tell us that we are travelling along a well-used bear travel path and thus must remain alert.

So can bears speak? Perhaps they don’t use a full language like we do, but they certainly do use body position, vocalizations, and scent to send messages. Next time you come across a bear, think about what message the bear is conveying, and respond accordingly in bear-ese (e.g., backing away means you don’t want confrontation, yelling loudly could be perceived as a threat if it frightens cubs).

 

 

off leash dog chases bear from the dike trail up a tree by the Annex duck pond

Wednesday 3pm.  Earlier this morning an off leash dog chased a very large black bear from the dike trail by the duck pond to a backyard on 11th avenue in the Annex .  The bear sought refuge at the top of the tree and eventually came back down at about 1 pm.

Dog owners, if travelling on the dike trail please keep your dogs under control, by voice and with a leash.  Dogs chasing bears may provoke defensive behaviour in bears and result in human/wildlife conflict.  Bear sightings also reported by the Coal Creek boat launch earlier today.

Be prepared and expect to encounter bears.  Travel in groups, make noise to avoid surprising them at close range and stay in well lit areas at night.  If you see a bear, stay calm,  identify yourself as human with your voice and back away slowly.  Never approach or feed bears. dike trial bear

Thank you Annex and West Fernie residents. Not a single garbage can out the night before collection!

Wednesday September 30.  WildSafeBC went out on a night time garbage audit last night in West Fernie and in the annex.  I am very pleased to report that not a single garbage can was found put out on the curb the night before garbage collection day.  Thank you, thank you!

Garbage out at night is one of the root causes of human/bear conflict.  We are making progress, the next step is to ensure that we all keep garbage secure (in a garage or shed or basement inaccessible to bears) between collection days.

Keep up the great work everyone.  Together we can ensure our bears stay wild and our community remains safe.  bear family from fernie

Open and overflowing commercial dumpsters are a bear attractant.

BBCub in Radium Bin[1]There have been a number of reports about business dumpsters being left open and overflowing with garbage, attracting bears to the area and jeopardizing public safety. Residents, please do not dump your waste in or beside dumpsters designated for businesses. Take it to the transfer station

WildSafeBC would like to remind all businesses to ensure that:

The area surrounding the dumpster is kept clean, odour free and maintained in such a manner as not to attract wildlife.

Dumpsters must be kept closed at all times and secured (with a lock or carabineer) at the end of each business day, (City of Fernie Waste Regulation Bylaw #1845).

We live in Bear Country, contact either Waste Management or South East Disposal to upgrade to a dumpster with a ‘bear lock bar” or a bear resistant dumpster. Thank you for your attention to this matter and complying with City of Fernie Waste Regulation Bylaw #1845. The end result will be a cleaner and safer community for wildlife and people.

 

 

Are you responsible for baiting this large black bear into the Annex in Fernie

Monday September 28. Black bear sightings, bears accessing garbage, bears climbing onto porches, causing property damage, looking into windows, bears swatting dogs and bears bluff charging people at night reported throughout the Elk Valley and South Country.

Are you comfortable with bears, even a grizzly and cubs in your backyard? Bears getting garbage in your yard will often drag it to another property. Your negligence is jeopardizing yours and other people’s safety. If you have garbage in the backyard, under the carport, on the deck, apple trees that haven’t been picked, pet food outside, chicken coops or anything , expect bears, even grizzly bears to turn up looking for easy food. Remove the attractants, bears will move on. If it is safe to do so, scare the bears off your property, a car alarm works well, air horn, bang pots and pans even a loud electric guitar has proven to deter bears.

Fernie

Black bear sightings, bears accessing garbage, bears climbing onto porches looking into windows, bears swatting dogs, bears bluff charging people at night reported throughout Fernie on 5th street, all along 4th avenue ,by the Courthouse and city Hall, 8th, 9th and 11th avenue in the Annex,

Sparwood

Bear accessing garbage and causing property damage in Sparwood Heights, Mountainview and Spardell Mobile Home Parks.

Elkford

Bears reported accessing garbage along Minto Crescent, Alpine Way, Balmer Crescent, Cassidy Crescent.

Be prepared and expect to encounter bears anytime, anyplace.

At home: Bear proof your property: lock up the garbage, clean up the fruit, feed pets indoors, keep pets indoors at night and get rid of anything that might attract bears to your property. Encourage and help your neighbours do the same.

In town or on the trails: If you encounter a bear, remain calm, identify yourself as human with a calm voice, back away slowly and leave the bear an escape route.

We live in wildlife habitat. Be aware of your surroundings and respectful of the environment. If you observed dangerous wildlife

  • accessing garbage or other human supplied food sources
  • that cannot be scared off
  • a bear, cougar or wolf seen in an urban area

Contact Bylaw Services and call the Conservation Officer Service Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) 24 hr hotline on 1-877-952-7277. This allows officers to identify current hot spot locations and work with both residents and wildlife to encourage use of natural habitats and food sources before wildlife becomes habituated and/or a safety concern.

For more information on keeping communities’ safe and wildlife wild please visit www.wildsafebc.com, or follow us on Facebook WildSafeBC Elk Valley.

aneex balck bear

Grizzly bear and two cubs make their way into Fernie.

hosmer grizzly bearsA grizzly bear and two cubs were reported on many rural properties along Dicken Road the last few weeks. They have now made their way into Fernie, reported in the field behind Home Hardware and now at the north end of Hand Avenue and Colclough in West Fernie.

Are you comfortable with a grizzly and cubs in your backyard? If you have garbage in the backyard, under the carport, on the deck, apple trees that haven’t been picked, pet food outside or anything else expect bears, even grizzly bears to turn up looking for easy food. Remove the attractants, bears will move on. If it is safe to do so, scare the bears off your property, a car alarm works well, air horn, bang pots and pans even a loud electric guitar has proven to deter bears.

Carelessly stored garbage and apple trees are the root causes of bear human conflict in the Elk Valley and south Country. What is the problem with bear’s eating apples?   Apples are a fine food source for bears. They are very similar to many natural foods that bears normally eat. The problem is that most apple trees are located in people’s yards.   Bears are natural scavengers, have great memories, a keen sense of smell and will remember an easy food source. Carelessly stored garbage, birdfeeders, dirty BBQ’s and fruit trees are open invitations to bears.

Apples are ripe and bears are passing through town in search for easy food sources. . Owning a fruit tree in bear country is a big responsibility. Pick fruit daily as it ripens or pick it before it ripens if you don’t intend on using it and don’t allow fruit to accumulate on the ground. Pruning your fruit trees will result in a better and more manageable quality of fruit. If you can’t manage your apple tree, consider cutting it down and replacing it with a non-fruit bearing tree. Consult your local arborist. Dispose of excess apples responsibly, take them to the compost bin at the transfer station, it is free!

Keeping garbage stored indoors until collection day and securing wildlife attractants is the best way to keep people safe, prevent property damage, and avoid the unnecessary killing of bears that come into conflict with people.

Grizzly bear sightings reported in West Fernie

Monday September 21.bcWildSafe_180x120

Fernie

Grizzly bear sightings reported on Colclough and Hand Avenue in West Fernie, in the field behind Home Hardware and along Dicken road and on Mushroom Head Trail. Black bear sightings reported throughout West Fernie,8th and 11th avenue in the Annex, Annex Park, James White Park, Elk View Drive, Ridgemont, behind the Courthouse and along 4th avenue.

Sparwood

Bear sightings reported in Sparwood Heights along Ponderosa and Pinyon.

Elkford

Bear sightings reported along Balmer Crescent.

Be prepared and expect to encounter bears anytime, anyplace.

At home: Bear proof your property: lock up the garbage, clean up the fruit, feed pets indoors, keep pets indoors at night and get rid of anything that might attract bears to your property. Encourage and help your neighbours do the same.

In town or on the trails: If you encounter a bear, remain calm, identify yourself as human with a calm voice, back away slowly and leave the bear an escape route.

We live in wildlife habitat. Be aware of your surroundings and respectful of the environment. If you observed dangerous wildlife

  • accessing garbage or other human supplied food sources
  • that cannot be scared off
  • a bear, cougar or wolf seen in an urban area

Contact Bylaw Services and call the Conservation Officer Service Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) 24 hr hotline on 1-877-952-7277. This allows officers to identify current hot spot locations and work with both residents and wildlife to encourage use of natural habitats and food sources before wildlife becomes habituated and/or a safety concern.

For more information on keeping communities’ safe and wildlife wild please visit www.wildsafebc.com, or follow us on Facebook WildSafeBC Elk Valley.

 

Grizzly bear sighting on Mushroom head trail Fernie

Sunday September 20.  A grizzly bear was reported by a mountain biker on Phat Bastard trail yesterday.  The grizzly was seen on Phat Bastard heading towards Mushroom Head.

Come and learn how to use Bear Spray today at the Fall Fair, 3pm at the baseball diamonds in Prentice Park Fernie.

Fernie is Wildlife Country

The Safest Wildlife Encounter is One Prevented

Avoid surprise encounters: Call out, clap your hands, sing or talk loudly

Look for signs of wildlife: Tracks, droppings, diggings, claw-marked trees, torn-up logs, overturned rocks and food caches.

Travel smart: Stay in groups, stay on marked trails and travel in daylight.

Do not litter: Pack it in, pack it out.

Carry bear spray: Keep it accessible and know how to use it as your last best defense.

Dog owners: keep your dogs under control. They may provoke defensive behavior in wildlife.

Cyclists: speed and quietness put you at risk for sudden encounters. Slow down and make noise.

Never Approach or Feed Wildlife

If you encounter a Bear:

  • STAY CALM
  • DO NOT RUN
  • Let the bear know you are human (arms out to side)
  • Use your voice in a calm, assertive manner.
  • Back away slowly and allow the bear an escape route
  • Never turn your back on wildlife
  • Do not approach or feed wildlifebcWildSafe_180x120

Wildlife update for the Elk Valley and South Country and events coming up

Thursday September 17. Wildlife sightings update.

Fernie

Bear sightings reported in James White and Annex parks, River dike trail, Pine Crescent, West Fernie and 3rd and 4th Avenue by the courthouse.

Sparwood

Bear sightings reported on Hickory Crescent, Sycamore and Pinyon in Sparwood Heights.

Wildlife and how to use safely use bear spray presentations

Elkford: September 17 at 5:30pm, meet outside the Conference Centre

Fernie: September 20 at 3 pm, meet at the Ball Diamonds during the Fall Festival

WildSafeBC will have a display set up at the Jaffray Fall Fair on Saturday and Fernie Fall Festival on Sunday.

Childrens Educational program starts this week with Creative Minds PreSchool and Fernie Academy on Monday

Thank you for bear-proofing your property and keeping our wildlife wild and community safe.elkford brown bears

Five bears killed and a grizzly bear attacked a hunter over the weekend

Bear garbage bikeA bear and two cubs destroyed in James white Park in Fernie last Saturday afternoon, two bears destroyed in Sparwood, one on Michel Creek road and one by the hospital and a grizzly bear attacked a hunter by Grave Lake.   Garbage, apples, birdseed, pet food and other attractants accessible to bears on your property is like inviting someone to dinner then shooting them in the head! That is a harsh and bold statement but was how I felt on Saturday afternoon.   While playing in a tennis tournament in James White Park in Fernie we saw a bear and two cubs wander through the park towards the airport subdivision and five minutes later a gunshot and then a cub howling, followed by two more gunshots.

By the way, I am the person who puts up the bear in area signs, talks to people about keeping garbage indoors and picking fruit trees, does all the kids education in schools, attends community events, talks to the district staff and council about the need for bear resistant containers and enforcement of wildlife bylaws etc.. in the entire Elk Valley and South Country. I do want to thank everyone who has helped educate neighbours, family and friends and contacted bylaw services to report people who are feeding wildlife by intent or neglect. We are all in this together and can keep our wildlife wild and community safe.

That is now a total of twelve bears destroyed in the past few weeks. Bears accessing garbage outside, apples and chickens on properties, causing property damage, bluff charging people and deemed to pose a risk to human safety that have been trapped and destroyed on Mt Proctor, James White Park and Beach Avenue in Fernie, Causeway Bay Hotel in Sparwood, rural properties on Dicken and Lower Elk Valley road, Elkford and Elko.

Removing bears doesn’t solve the problem, as long as the attractants are there expect more bears to come in after easy food until hibernation time (usually late November). Relocation seldom works. Bears don’t survive well in new habitat or make their way back to communities.

Don’t blame the Conservation Officers who have the unfortunate task of destroying bears. We are to blame, if we have garbage out, apples or other attractants on our properties or know of someone who does and won’t take the time to help them or call the bylaw officer to help resolve the issue. Remove whatever might attract bears to your property and if it is safe to do so scare the bear off, bang pots and pans together, use an air horn or any loud noise maker. A bear’s natural fear of humans is it’s “safety net”. We chose to live in bear country, it is our responsibility to bear-proof our properties and give bears the space and respect they deserve.

We need your help to prevent the needless destruction of bears and to keep our communities safe. It is policy to rely on citizen complaints as a means of enforcing bylaws. Personal information will remain confidential in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Thank you for contacting your local bylaw officer to report anyone in your neighborhood with garbage, apple trees or any other attractant accessible to wildlife.

 

Bears sightings reported in every community throughout the Elk Valley and South Country.

 

WildSafeBC will be at the Elkford Fall registration on September 17, Jaffray Fall Fair on the 19th and Fernie Feast and Fest on the 20th.   Drop by to find out more about preventing human/wildlife conflict.

 

Never Approach or Feed Wildlife

Report human/wildlife conflict to 1-877-952-7277(RAPP) or #7277 on cell.

For more information on preventing human/wildlife conflict visit www.wildsafebc.com