Conflicts between humans and bears increase drastically in north coast B.C.

Lack of natural food driving bears toward towns

This black bear was seen rifling through an apartment dumpster near the Terrace & District Aquatic Centre on Sept. 15. There has been a sharp increase in bear/human conflicts and bear euthanizations in the Northwest this year, according to the B.C. Conservation Officers Service. (Facebook photo courtesy Paras Sharma)

This black bear was seen rifling through an apartment dumpster near the Terrace & District Aquatic Centre on Sept. 15. There has been a sharp increase in bear/human conflicts and bear euthanizations in the Northwest this year, according to the B.C. Conservation Officers Service. (Facebook photo courtesy Paras Sharma)

Conflicts between humans and bears have increased drastically in Northwest B.C.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) typically receives between 300 and 500 reports of human/wildlife conflicts per fiscal year (April to March) in its North Coast zone, which covers Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, the Nass Valley, and neighbouring coastal areas, said Tracy Walbauer, a sergeant with the B.C. COS.

This year there have been over 900 reports of conflicts, only six months into the fiscal year. Conflicts with other dangerous animals, such as wolves and cougars, remain at normal levels, Walbauer said, so that increase in reports is almost entirely caused by bears encroaching into human territory.

Two of the bears’ major food sources are absent this year, driving desparate, hungry bears toward towns. Walbauer said berry crops in the region didn’t ripen this year, likely due to the unusually rainy summer, and high river levels are washing away spawned salmon.

“One thing that we do know is that we’re dealing with a lot of adult bears, which is not normal,” Walbauer said. “We typically deal with sub-adults that had just left their mom and don’t really have a place of their own yet.”

“A lot of the bears that we’re dealing with are very hungry, they’re very thin, some of them have been almost to the point of emaciation.”

Conservation officers have euthanized over 100 bears in the region so far this year. In a normal year, there would have only been between 20 – 40 euthanizations by the end of September, Walbauer said.

It’s especially important this year for people in the region to manage bear attractants, Walbauer said.

He asked the public to ensure that fruit trees are picked, and any fruit beneath be moved. Garbage should be kept inside until pickup day. Commercial operations should endeavour to use dumpsters with metal lids, as bears easily break through plastic dumpster lids.

“The bears are extremely hungry and people need to be very vigilant,” he said.

There have been increased attacks on livestock, including chickens and at least one donkey, as well as pets.

Walbauer said electric fences and floodlights can help protect livestock — sometimes.

“We’ve seen [bears] go into beehives, breaking right through the electric fencing,” he said. ”So when they’re hungry, they’re going to do everything they can. They’re prepared to take that electric shock to get that reward.”

Walbauer said he hopes fish runs will increase later in autumn, providing the bears with a stronger natural food source and drawing them away from human centres.

Bear sightings or encounters can be reported by calling 1-877-952-7277.

Just Posted

An example of what a mural would look like on the back wall on Ron’s Bait and Tackle Store which faces the courtyard and sidewall. The mural photos shown here are mock-ups of existing artwork on walls of interest in the downtown core to build anticipation within the community about the concept of murals. The KPAA will not necessarily be using these locations or this artwork for the actual murals. (KPAA photo)
Kitimat Public Art Alliance mural funding request denied

D’Andrea suggested she will come back to the council at a later date with a more concrete plan

L-R: Vanessa Cuoto, Montana Murray, Connor Best, Dawn Best, Natalia Lopez, Thomas Walton, and Charlotte Collier partaking in the clean-up Kitimat campaign on May 28. (Katie Peacock photo)
Kitimat’s MStar Hotel brings out staff’s competitive clean-up side

The hotel staff circulated the Big Spruce Trailhead and picked up as much garbage as they could

Kitimat’s Water Quality Advisory, which has been in place for just over a week, has been lifted. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory in Kitimat lifted

The district has been under a Water Quality Advisory since June 2

On June 16 at 6 p.m., the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a public presentation and discussion with Happipad, a social enterprise, to talk about solutions for affordable housing Kitimat. (Happipad photo)
Affordable housing to be focus of Kitimat Chamber of Commerce meeting

Figures indicate the average Kitimat household needs to make more than $92,000 a year

(District of Kitimat logo)
Hirsch Creek Bridge restricted to single lane traffic

The district is restricting the bridge traffic to legal highway loads only

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read