Bear sightings in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area from April 1 to Oct. 17 this year has doubled compared to the same time last year. — File photo

Bear sightings in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area from April 1 to Oct. 17 this year has doubled compared to the same time last year. — File photo

Bear sightings up significantly in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Fruit trees number one food attractant, says conservation officer

There have been more bear sightings reported in Parksville Qualicum Beach this year, nearly double the number recorded in 2018.

From April 1 to Oct. 17 this year, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service had received 233 calls of bear sightings, 114 more than last year’s figures at the same time. Conservation officers attended 32 incidents this year compared to 15 in 2018. Public affairs officer Pamela Roth said it’s difficult to identify why levels fluctuate from year to year.

“We believe they are mainly driven by natural food availability but could also be affected by bear numbers, demographics, and changing human development and use,” said Roth. “The availability of attractants also plays a role of course.”

Conservation officer Andrew Riddell said there’s always going to be bears in the region as it has a lot of rural areas, plenty of rivers and wooded forests areas.

“The bears from what we’ve been having mostly are poking into people’s yards and a couple of neighbourhoods that are coming off those rivers and natural wildlife corridors,” said Riddell.

“We did have one bear that has been straying far into Qualicum Beach and a couple of reports of it coming around people’s back doors.”

Conservation officers had to destroy four bears in 2018 but so far in 2019, only one has been put down and one has been relocated.

Riddell said residents in the Parksville Qualicum Beach regions needs to do their part to discourage bears from frequenting the neighbourhood.

“We need to keep the bears wild and make sure that all our garbage and compost are secured,” said Riddell. “As well, they have to make sure they aren’t being put out until the day of pick up.”

In order to reduce wildlife conflicts, the BC Conservation Officer Servicehave been conducting random inspections. Riddell said the leading bear attractant has been unharvested fruit trees.

“A lot of the bears have been coming into residents’ yards for the fruits,” said Riddell. “I haven’t had many reports of bears getting into garbages or being aggressive. It’s just a report of a bear shaking someone’s trees or taking nap after hitting a bunch of the pears or the apples.”

Riddell said although the fruits on the trees are virtually gone now, he hopes next year residents would be mindful by picking the fruits and not allow them to accumulate on the ground.

“This will help mitigate any sort of interaction between humans and the bears coming in looking for food,” said Riddell.

Riddell noted that incidents involving bear foraging into garbage have been down, which he says is positive.

“We do get concern when the bears start to go after our food waste,” said Riddell.

“That’s when they start walking down our roads, coming around our driveways, into our vehicles. It’s a much higher negative interaction between humans and wildlife when they get conditioned to our waste.”

To find out more on how to reduce conflict with bears, go online at WildSafeBC.com

To report a bear sighting or one that poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call, 1-877 952-7277 (RAPP).

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