A black bear wanders through a Sooke neighbourhood in 2015. Wild Wise Sooke has recorded seven bear sightings this year.

Waking black bears in search of food

Wild Wise Sooke reports first bear sighting of the year

Vancouver Island wildlife officials are asking Sooke residents to prepare for a busy bear season as the bruins begin to wake from their winter slumber.

So far, the numbers are not alarming: six bears were reported in March, and one in April, said conservation officer Peter Pauwels.

“It will pick up. Then it comes really hard and fast,” he said.

“May is a very busy month for us when they first come out, they are very hungry and there’s not a lot of stuff out there for them to eat.”

It’s not unusual for bears to be up this early either, as early shoots of skunk cabbage, horsetail, clover and dandelions serve as a quick preseason meal.

“We believe much of it is dependent on the temperature, but it doesn’t do them a lot of good to get up early if there’s nothing to eat, so they may still stay dormant and wake up in May when there’s more vegetation for them to eat,” Pauwels said.

Even feeding on early spring vegetation, bears won’t gain much weight, and continue to drop pounds well into June and July.

Typically, bears will stay low in valley basins in the spring and go into the hills in search of summer berries.

The concern comes when bears become habituated to human food, usually abundant in urban centers. This is something Debbie Read, community coordinator of Wild Wise Sooke, hopes will change this year.

“If you live in Sooke, chances are you have bears living nearby. We live in bear country and should learn to expect to deal with bears,” she said.

“We can cut the potential for human-bear conflict by simply managing attractants.”

Some bear prevention tips include storing the garbage in your garage, putting the garbage tote curbside between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. on collection day, feed pets indoors and keep all feeding bowls indoors, and rinsing out recycling boxes to reduce odours.

“Let’s keep them [bears] moving to the hills by not attracting them into our neighbourhoods with non-natural food,” Read said.

Not doing so certainly has its consequences.

Weeks ago, a habituated bear was killed after repeatedly trying to pry open a chicken run in the Whiffin Spit area. After living and feeding on human food in the area for years, he was no longer fearful of people.

In a more recent case, a dog was injured in Jordan River following an attack by another habituated bear, Pauwels said. The bear (described as missing a front paw) is familiar to the area for the last two years, and appears to be getting “increasingly bold.”

As always, relocation of the bear is not an option, just prevention.

“Bears are opportunistic omnivores and will return often to a readily available food source, if the attractant is secured or removed, the bear will move on,” Read said.

For more info on bear prevention and managing your attractants, contact Debbie Read at 250-646-2997,wildwisesooke@gmail.com or go to wildwisesooke.com.

 

Just Posted

Victoria harpist releases ‘old school’ jazz album, makes singing debut

Musician ‘blown away’ by reactions to her seventh album Songs From the Harp

WestShore Skatepark Coalition faces uphill battle as costs jump $166,000

‘It feels like a David and Goliath situation,’ says coalition member

Victoria’s Christmas bird count set to take flight

More volunteers needed on the West Shore for Dec. 14 count

Trees topped, greenery snatched from Saanich park

‘If everyone took one thing, there’d be nothing left,’ says president of park society

West Shore Parks and Rec offers holiday childcare alternatives

Camps available on days many daycares close

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read