Thank you to Lucy Harrop and her daughters Maggie and Emily for their efforts cleaning up litter around Maiden Lake in Fernie on Earth Day. This area is popular with families and wildlife. Thanks for helping keep wildlife wild and people safe.
A black bear and cubs reported on the Boom Trail by the base of the Boomerang chairlift and grizzly bear sightings reported on Double Creek Trail (adjacent to the Silk trail, a popular fat bike and xc ski trail).
As the snow melts be prepared and expect to encounter bears anytime. For more information on bear safety go to https://wildsafebc.com/grizzly-bear/
Spring is the best opportunity to keep wildlife wild and communities safe. Here is a screenshot of our Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (W.A.R.P.) for the province for bear sightings reported in communities between April 1st and April 20th.
Keep garbage inaccessible to wildlife, bring in bird feeders and secure all other wildlife attractants and bears will move on to feed on natural food. The end result will be a cleaner and safer community for people and bears. Visit https://wildsafebc.com/ to learn more about wildlife and safety.
Happy Earth Day. Try our Nature Bingo. If you are a parent home-schooling your children, a teacher, group leader and/or caregiver looking for a fun and educational activity on earth day have a look at our Nature Bingo activity available on: https://wildsafebc.com/wrp/.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WildSafeBC is adapting by offering online delivery of our WildSafe Ranger Program. Contact fernie@wildsafebc to learn how you can register for these free* online classes.
Ongoing support from sponsors, collaboration with community groups, social and local media have enabled WildSafeBC to reach a broad range of residents and visitors. More than 700 children participated in the WildSafeBC Ranger Program, 400 adults attended thirteen wildlife awareness and safe use of bear spray workshops and over 500 contacts were made at community events. WildSafeBC and the Conservation Officer Service assessed over 600 properties and educated residents about managing garbage and fruit trees in rural areas and communities. The WildSafeBC program will be going into hibernation until May.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us keep communities safe and wildlife wild.
Island Lake Lodge, one of my favorite classrooms
As of October 29, there were just under 230 black and grizzly bear reports to the Conservation Officer Service (COS) this year in Elk Valley and South Country communities. This is above average since 2015. The increase in reports can be attributed to a high bear population due to good berry crops and a higher bear birth rate the past few years. An increase in development, tourism, trail and backcountry use is also a factor and has contributed to an increase in human/bear conflict and bear reports to the COS.
Although the number of bear reports is higher than average, black and grizzly bear mortality has shown a decreasing trend since 2015 when 33 bears were destroyed in the region. To date, six (two black and four grizzly) food conditioned and habituated bears have been destroyed in 2019. This decrease in bear mortality can be attributed to availability of natural food, increased awareness and better management of wildlife attractants: less wind strewn litter and garbage accessible to wildlife with better residential carts and bear resistant commercial bins versus plastic bags on the curb side. Garbage remains the most reported attractant for all wildlife combined, although residential fruit trees are seldom reported they remain a significant attractant and require better management.
Thursday October 31st. The trail that goes through a dense wooded area a few hundred metres east of the tennis courts in James White is closed until further notice due to bear activity. Thank you for staying out and keeeping dogs under control at all times. Be prepared and expect to encounter bears anytime. Bears also reported on 4th avenue, throughout James White Park, West Fernie, Ridgemont,Old Stumpy trail and by IDES and Fernie Secondary Schools. As long as garbage, fruit, bird seed etc.. is accessible, bears will not go into hibernation. Bear proof your property so bears can move on.
It is always a pleasure to work with Kindergarten classes. The kids all love the role play what to do if you see a bear!
“I wanted to pass on that while my class was out for our outdoor Monday afternoon we came across a black bear up Old Stumpy. The kids did an AMAZING job staying calm, with the group and making noise – everything you had taught them! Thank again for your amazing program. We were able to put some of it into practice today!”
Kindergarten students at IDES learning how to respond to bear encounters. Photo by Leah Spergel
Bears have also been reported all along 4th avenue in Fernie. As long as food (garbage, apples, compost) is available, bears will stay in town and not go into hibernation. Lock up garbage and bear proof your property, especially if you live by a school or a park and bears will move on.
Hibernation is a way for bears to conserve energy in the winter when food is in low supply. During a period called hyperphagia, bears prepare for hibernation by eating three times as much in the fall as they do in the summer. In the fall, bears need up to 20,000 calories per day (about 300 apples) to gain enough weight to get through the winter. In some areas, food-conditioned bears that are used to accessing human food, such as garbage, may not hibernate at all. Hibernation is an important survival strategy for bears in regions such as British Columbia where their main foods – green vegetation, berries, salmon and insects – are not available in winter.
Thank you for helping keep people safe and bears wild.
For more information on bear-proofing your property go to www.wildsafebc.com
Photo courtesy of Louise Williams
As of October 15, there were 67 black bear and 19 grizzly bear reports this year in Fernie. This is above the average number of 40 black bear and 12 grizzly bear reports for the past 3 years. This increase in reports can be attributed to a high bear population due to good berry crops and a higher bear birth rate the past few years. An increase in trail and backcountry use is also a factor and has contributed to an increase in human/bear conflict.
Although the number of bear reports is higher than average, black and grizzly bear mortality has shown a decreasing trend since 2015 when 22 bears were destroyed in Fernie. To date, two (one black and one grizzly) food conditioned and habituated bears have been destroyed to date. This decrease in bear mortality can be attributed to availability of natural food, increased awareness and better management of wildlife attractants: less wind strewn litter and garbage accessible to wildlife with gravity locking carts versus plastic bags on the curb side and availability of communal bear resistant dumpsters.
Bear reports in the region tend to have a small peak in the spring followed by another larger peak in the early fall when bears have increased caloric demands in preparation for winter denning. Garbage remains the most reported attractant for all wildlife combined, although residential fruit trees are seldom reported they remain a significant attractant and require better management.