There were more calls regarding cougars in the Cumberland area in 2020. (WildSafeBC file photo)

There were more calls regarding cougars in the Cumberland area in 2020. (WildSafeBC file photo)

Bear calls down, cougar calls up in Cumberland

Last year was third in a row with no bears being put down

Once again, Cumberland’s program to keep bears out of the community resulted in none of the animals having to be put down.

In the late fall, WildSafeBC Cumberland community coordinator Ashley Marks provided an overview to council of how the last year had gone when it came to wildlife conflicts in the community.

In her annual report, she noted it is part of a trend in recent years of reducing the interactions with wildlife in settled areas through outreach and educational opportunities with the public.

Not so many years ago, Cumberland was having to put down many bears that had worked their way into settled parts of the community, but through public education, they have improved the situation, and once again there was no bear loss during the season, Marks said. This marked the third consecutive year.

“I’d like to keep it that way,” she said.

RELATED STORY: No bears destroyed in Cumberland in 2019

WildSafeBC grew out of the Bear Aware program. Now, it focuses not only on bears but other animals such as cougars and deer. For many animals, most notably bears, the number of interactions has dropped since the program started.

As Marks said, cougars were proving to be an exception in 2020. While calls for most animals were down, calls regarding cougars were up substantially after several years of dropping numbers. In her report, she notes cougars might be preying on domestic cats or tracking deer into town, but she adds it was not clear what exactly was causing the increase.

Cumberland Counc. Jesse Ketler came across this cougar during a walk on the trails below Kendal Avenue in Cumberland on Friday, Jan. 8. Photo by Jesse Ketler

WildSafeBC uses a number of means to get out the message about ways to reduce animal conflicts, such as displays in public areas, recreation camps and a nature education program for kids. Marks delivered seven presentations to more than 100 participants, with all but one held outdoors to allow for social distancing.

The program also relies on a garbage-tagging program, as Marks visited more than 600 houses to drop off reminders to residents not to leave out garbage that can attract bears.

“I left a door hanger, just because of COVID,” she said. “I didn’t want to invade their space, especially when they’re at home.”

The program also uses social media to spread its message. Its Facebook page saw an increase of 20 per cent over the year, Marks said.

Another challenge is fruit trees, especially from fallen fruit, that can attract bears, and Marks is hopeful a maintenance plan for orchards will help. There are also local programs through groups like LUSH Valley Food Action Society that help gather more fruit and leave less lying around in fields and yards.

“LUSH Valley has helped out a great deal,” she said.

In 2020, COVID-19 presented some challenges for programming, but there were others such as hesitance among people to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters phone line about wildlife.

For this year, Marks has identified goals such as continuing to target orchards and fruit trees, growing the social media network, establishing more local partnerships and having Cumberland continue to work toward BearSmart Community status.

One challenge that could continue is that as Cumberland grows, so do the possibilities of human-wildlife interactions, as the wild animals respond to increasing threats to their habitat.

“Cumberland has been growing a lot, and it’s encroaching on a lot of woods,” Marks said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From left - Rev. Sulin Milne, rector of St Peter’s, Karen Cummins and Bill Henderson of Nature Comox Valley pose for a photo with the newly-planted Garry oak tree. Photo supplied
Young Garry oak planted at St. Peter’s church gardens as a sign of resiliency

By Tony Reymolds Special to The Record St Peter’s Anglican Church, Comox,… Continue reading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Co-ordinator/founder David Clarke, right, is pictured with members of Comox Valley Street Outreach during Monday’s rig dig. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox Valley group aims to stop overdose deaths, reduce stigma

As the overdose crisis worsens throughout B.C., a local advocacy group is… Continue reading

London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings. Screenshot, London Drugs
Courtenay London Drugs now taking COVID-19 bookings

A number of locations in Western Canada selected to give vaccine

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/ screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Most Read