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der life for salmon, or accidently surprising a black bear, there’s no mistaking it. We’re on their turf. How we negotiate our shared habitat will reveal a lot about our species.

DOES THIS FISH MAKE ME LOOK FAT?: At this time of year, black bears need to eat at least 20,000 calories a day to pack on a thick layer of hibernation pudge. Which makes your garbage look extra tasty. photo by Shannin Wagemans

This is bear country BY FRANCINE ULMER

P

owell River is having one of the worst years in recent history for human-bear conflicts, with more bear complaints reported to the Conservation Officer Service than usual. Scientists studying human-bear conflicts say that in years where wild food sources are poor due to environmental factors such as drought, the number of humanbear conflicts increase. “This is the worst year we have had in 10 years, especially in the last six weeks,” said Powell River-Sunshine Coast Conservation Officer Sergeant Murray Smith. “It’s related to the blackberry crop failure due to hot, dry weather.” His comments were made the same day a 51-year-old man was mauled by a bear while walking his dog. At 5:30 am September 24, the man was walking in the 4700 block of Redonda Avenue behind the Town Centre Mall when his dog came running back towards him with a bear in pursuit. The man picked up his dog but the bear knocked him over and then got on top of him. While defending himself, the man’s arms were scratched and bitten by the bear but he managed to get away. Smith said the man was treated at the Powell River General Hospital for minor injuries before being released. The dog was fine. Wildlife is active at dawn and dusk and your chances of sighting a bear at this time are increased. Additionally, having a dog can increase your chances of

conflict with bears. A large number of black bear maulings are precipitated by dogs on or off leash. The Conservation Officers destroyed a sow and two cubs in a swift response to protecting public safety. “We’d had multiple reports in the last two weeks from that specific area about a family unit of bears,” said Smith. “They’d lost their fear of people and were breaking into buildings and damaging property.” As fruit sources are drying up bears become more aggressive in their feeding and have been moving on to poultry, rabbits, and livestock. Property damage occurs when bears go after the animal feed as well as the animals. Extra vigilance and care should be taken by anyone undertaking animal husbandry. Bear proof enclosures should be considered in the design and installation of your animal husbandry facilities. Electric fences are a great line of defense against all predators including bear, raccoon, dog or cougar. As bears prepare for denning season they need 20,000 calories a day. A human male needs 2,000 calories. “Bears are coming to town in search of alternate food sources and finding fruit and nuts,” said Smith. If people secured all attractants on their property we would not be providing food rewards for the bears. Unfortunately, once a bear discovers a food source it will return. We don’t want the bears to learn to associate humans with food rewards. Earlier this year, a bear broke into

Bazaar & Tea St. David & St. Paul’s Anglican Church

November 7, Noon til 2pm 6310 Sycamore Street, Townsite

BEAR XING: Bears, like some people, can’t be depended on to use the zebra crossing. You’ve probably seen your share of bears, or bear evidence, in town this year. More are being destroyed by wildlife officers than ever before. photo by Sean Percy

Something for Everyone! Tea room, baking, preserves, jewellery, gifts for pets, books & fish pond

Raffles: quilt & holidays specialty foods Explore the Labyrinth & Sycamore Commons

POWELL RIVER LIVING • october 2015 •

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Powell River Living October 2015  

Living with bears in Powell River. Helping Syrian refugees. Earthquake preparedness. Meet the federal election candidates. And much more...

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