Multiple sightings on southern Vancouver Island have been reported in recent weeks, prompting the provincial conservation authority to share some tips with the public on how to better protect oneself.
According to WildSafeBC’s online wildlife sighting reporting program, W.A.R.P., there have been more than a dozen sightings of bears since the beginning of May. More than half were seen in the West Shore area, mostly near Royal Roads University.
The University promptly shut down access to the gardens on June 2, only opening them following the day the reports of a bear on campus were made.
— Royal Roads (@RoyalRoads) June 3, 2023
As the warmer weather continues to arrive, the number of sightings of bears continuously increases.
“The COS has noticed an increase in the volume of calls involving bears getting into unsecured garbage throughout the South Island area,” said David Karn with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
Ellie Lamb, a consultant with Pacific Wild says that these animals are primarily getting into close encounters with humans for safety, not just food.
“They don’t have any problems with people overlapping areas that they live [in]. Other bears, there is a little bit of bear politics that can happen, but with people they are very respectful if they’ve been taught rules,” said Lamb.
The B.C. COS is reminding the public that it’s an offence to leave out attractants that can be accessible to bears. They say that garbage should be stored in a locked area and, when possible, freeze garbage, and only put it out on the day of pickup.
Lamb adds that practicing attractant management is key to teaching bears to avoid your area.
“Don’t let them fall asleep next to the dog bowl, full of food on your porch,” said Lamb. “Yelling isn’t too effective, but a firm voice is and if you need to follow it up with throwing rocks or bear spray that is an option as well.”
B.C. COS says all threatening or aggressive encounters should be reported to the RAPP hotline at 1-877-952-7277