Bears prowl for food

Bears are leaving their dens in search of the nearest  food source, and B.C. residents are urged to be ‘bear aware’ to help reduce bear-human conflicts.

The British Columbia Conservation Foundation’s Bear Aware program is designed to prevent and reduce conflicts between people and bears in communities through educational awareness.

B.C.’s Ministry of Environment’s conservation officer  service received 23,240 reports of bear sightings between April  1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

During that time, conservation  officers attended 2,827 incidents in which bears were acting aggressively or public safety was an issue. As a result, 120 bears  were relocated and 675 bears had to be destroyed.

Though there has been a downward trend over the last 15 years in  the number of problem bears killed, last year’s number was higher  because of poor availability of natural foods, which meant bears were searching out other, non-natural food sources.

The most effective and natural way to prevent conflicts with bears  in urban areas is to put away food attractants such as garbage,  bird seed, compost and fruit.

In areas where attractants are managed properly, there has been a decline in related bear-human  conflict and the number of bears that have to be destroyed.

For more information on the Bear Aware program, please visit www.bearaware.bc.ca.

The public is encouraged to report human-wildlife conflicts that  threaten public safety or result in significant property damage by  calling 1-877-952-7277.