When you call the Conservation Officer Service to report a bear sighting, you need to be prepared to provide specific information.
1. Indicate where you live, why you are calling, your name and telephone number.
2. You will be asked what type of bear you have seen, the location of the bear, and the time of the sighting. If the bear is in your yard at the time of the call, they will instruct you on what to do.
3. In most cases, the provincial centre or the Bear Aware Coordinator will pass the information on to the local conservation officer. He or she may contact you to ask more detailed questions. It is a good idea to write down the information while it is fresh in your mind.
- What kind of bear was it? How large was it? Did it have any distinguishing markings (such as a white patch, scars, a notched ear, etc.)?
- Were there any cubs?
- What was the bear doing? Was it walking, running, eating, sleeping? Did it make noise? Did it leave any signs (scat, tracks, claw marks, etc.)?
- Was there anything out of the ordinary about its behaviour? For example, was it limping? Did it act aggressively? If a bear does not seem to be afraid of humans, loud noises, or is eating garbage, it is exhibiting abnormal behaviour.
- How long was the bear in the area? What caused the bear to leave?
- Have you seen this bear before? Have your neighbours seen it? If so, how often?
Reporting a sighting does not mean someone will automatically kill the bear.
If a bear can be scared away from residential areas on its first visit, and attractants such as garbage are removed, the bear will be more likely to return to the mountains to forage for natural food sources.
However if a bear is allowed to return to the same area repeatedly, becoming more conditioned to easy food sources like garbage, it will become more and more persistent in accessing food from homes or yards.
When confrontations arise between bears and humans the bear is often destroyed. This is why it is important that bears are reported as soon as they enter a community, before they have become used to human food sources.
What do you do with reports of sightings?
In B.C., Bear Aware and the Conservation Officer Service keep track of bear sightings and associated bear attractants so that we have an overall picture of bear activity in residential areas, and a clear idea of what we can do to avoid bears becoming unafraid of humans, which can lead to confrontation as it gets bolder in its search for food.
By reporting bear sightings you will add to our knowledge base and enable us to record the movements and numbers of local bear populations, direct our public education initiatives and protect the public and the bears.
Think carefully about why the bear was in your neighbourhood. Are there attractants that should be removed to stop the bear becoming habituated and returning to the area?
The Bear Aware Coordinator can speak to your neighbours if you are uncomfortable doing this.