Last year, seven bears were put down in the Comox Valley alone, including a sow and two cubs, for entering residential areas seeking food.
In an effort to avoid a similar situation this year, the Conservation Officer Service is making a plea to homeowners in all communities in the region to help reduce bear-human conflicts.
“Do your part as a responsible citizen and homeowner; pick all fruit you may have on your properties as soon as possible,” said James Hilgemann of the COS, in a press release. “As well, residents are asked to be diligent with garbage management to further reduce attractants for bears.”
There has been a noticeable increase in human wildlife conflict reports from all communities in recent weeks, specifically dealing with black bears in high-density residential areas accessing an abundance of unpicked fruit in back yards.
With the natural berry crops ending, along with a poor return of salmon and lower than normal water flows in local rivers this year, bears have started to come into communities in search of food.
The bears are binge eating and preparing for hibernation in a couple months’ time.
By leaving unpicked fruit on the trees, and on the ground, homeowners are placing themselves, as well as their neighbours, in harm’s way.
“Pick your fruit as soon as possible,” said Hilgemann. “Assist neighbours who may be unable to pick their fruit. Consider removing fruit trees if you find that you are not using the fruit. Pick fruit and donate it to your local food bank. Remind neighbours who may be unaware of what they are doing and the risks they are creating.”
The longer that the bears remain in town, the less fear they have for humans. These bears will eventually become habituated and associate humans with a food source.
Habituated bears are dangerous bears. When the fruit crop ends, and the bears are still in town, they will turn to garbage as food source. This cycle occurs every year and as a result, habituated bears have to be put down to ensure public safety, as was the case in the Comox Valley last year.