A B.C. Conservation officer is reminding Mission residents to be vigilant about keeping hungry bears from finding an easy feast on their property.
Many Missionities have posted pictures to social media of black bears visiting their neighbourhood during the last week.
“Bears are waking up from their seasonal slumber, which means they’re hungry and on the search for food,” said Sgt. Todd Hunter. “Conservation Officers are getting reports of bears out and about in several locations across B.C., and already in some cases, complaints.”
Hunter said Missionites should take time to assess their property, and ensure potential meals are properly secured. He said garbage, pet food, bird seed and fruit are all attractants, which can turn into a public safety concern.
The bears and their young cubs have been seen paying backyards a visit, climbing trees to feed on bird seed, and walking around residential streets.
Black bears are the most common of the three bear species found in Canada, and B.C. has one of the highest populations in the world, with the low estimates at 120,000, according to WildsafeBC.
They also account for 14,000 to 25,000 calls annually to the conservation service.
The bears typically wake up in April, having lost 30 per cent of their body weight during their winter snooze, WildsafeBC says.
While vegetation makes up about 80 per cent of their diet, they can become “more assertive or destructive when they have learned to associate humans and their activities with food.”
“They are renowned for their acute sense of smell that allows them to locate food at great distances.”
Hunter said that conservation offers are patrolling neighbourhoods in an ongoing public education and outreach campaign, but also for enforcement, which includes fines to residents and businesses who fail to do their part to keep the bears at bay.
Tips on how to secure attractants can be found here.