Mission’s conservation officer services received 18 calls about black bears in the area since November 1. /City of Mission Photo

Mission’s conservation officer services received 18 calls about black bears in the area since November 1. /City of Mission Photo

Bear sightings down in Mission but still prevalent

Bears are less likely to hibernate in the Lower Mainland due to milder climate and food availability

A handful of black bears have either delayed or avoided hibernation and have made their precence felt in Mission.

The city received reports of bear sightings in the area, according to a Facebook post from Dec. 9. Kyle Watson, a wildlife safety response officer with BC’s Conservation Officer Service (COS) in Mission, says the COS received 18 calls about bears since November 1, a mixture of sightings and issues with unsecured waste bins.

“We’re definitely working very close with the City of Mission and monitoring the reports and sightings,” Watson said. “The call volume has gone down quite a bit recently because of the colder weather and such, but I’ve gotten some recent bear sightings as well.”

Watson says calls increase when bears come out of hibernation in the spring. However, due to the milder climate, some bears may not go into their dens.

“Bears in the Lower Mainland won’t necessarily have true hibernation because the overall temperature in the [area] doesn’t get as cold as other parts of BC,” Watson said. “Food availability is a lot more present compared to other parts of the province because waste might not be properly managed, with bears getting into garbage.”

According to the organization’s predator and conflict statistics, the COS received 1,209 calls about black bears province-wide in November —down from 3,033 in October. Of the 1,209 calls, 120 were attended and 29 bears were killed. Since statistics were tracked in 2011, the province averages 1,131 November calls, 433 December calls and 125 January calls. Last year’s 702 December calls were the highest recorded in the 11-year span.

READ MORE: Baby bears ‘knock’ on Mission front door and people go wild

Watson says at this time of year, coyotes are the culprits for the most calls because they’re present year round, whereas bears hibernate. To prevent bears from wreaking havoc, he suggests better waste management.

“The COS would like to see residences securing their garbage better, and to follow municipal bylaws,” Watson said. “It’s important tp make sure [residents] are securing attractants within enclosed and secured spaces if possible — great solutions would be garages, secured sheds or locking up the waste bins.”

Wild Safe BC is a resource with information on coexisting with wildlife. The public can also call the Conservation Officer Service to report conflict with wildlife that threatens public safety or to report a poachers and polluters at 1-877-952-7277.


@dillon_white
dillon.white@missioncityrecord.com

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