By Debbie Read
Every year as the weather begins to cool and things begin to feel more like fall, bear sightings and conflicts increase in Sooke, but conservation officers and Wild Wise Sooke would like to see that change.
Communities where attractants are managed properly have less human-wildlife conflicts and fewer animals destroyed.
Last week black bear complaints to the conservation office had a huge increase with most complaints revolving around fruit trees and garbage. A number of calls came from Grant Road, Woodlands Creek, Whiffin Spit, Sunriver, and Church Road areas.
The overall the community has made some good efforts securing their garbage, but now we need to get more people to really be diligent on managing their fruit trees – especially unmaintained fruit trees. If you don’t deal with your attractants, you are going to have a bear in your yard.
We know there are a variety of simple things that each of us can do that make a big difference in preventing human-wildlife conflicts. When endorsed and supported by an entire community, these activities have the power to prevent dangerous wildlife from entering our communities, and becoming a public safety concern.
Conservation officers don’t get involved every time someone calls to complain about a bear eating backyard fruit. Their policy is to only get involved if the bear is exhibiting aggressive or threatening behaviour that puts the public at risk.
Unpicked or unmaintained fruit trees in and around town is a widespread problem. Ultimately, the bear will lose out if it continues to hang around. We certainly do not want to see any bears this year put down.
I would rather have people just manage their attractants. We must all accept our responsibilities to ensure that humans and wildlife can coexist.
We must take necessary steps to reduce the risk of human-wildlife conflict in our community
If you have concerns about an aggressive bear, report it to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. If you have fruit trees that you need help picking, you can contact Wild Wise Sooke by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Debbie Reed is the coordinator of Wild Wise Sooke.