It’s a message conservation officers try to get out early and often at this time of year: Secure potential food sources as bears emerge from hibernation.
As the spring season gets underway, the Conservation Officer Service (COS) has heard of several bear sightings in Whistler, although no conflict with humans has yet been reported.
“It seems like one bear has generated several of the reports. It’s a bear that’s been grazing around the (Whistler Golf Club),” said Sgt. Peter Businck, with the COS.
Businck took the opportunity to remind Whistlerites’ to secure potential attractants at this crucial time of year.
“The bears are coming out of hibernation right now and they’re going to be really hungry, which means it’s all the more important to make sure we’re managing our attractants, the bird feeders are put away, and the garbage and recycling is secured in an area that bears can’t access,” he said.
The message comes after a year in which a total of 11 bears were killed by authorities as a result of conflict. An 12th bear was shot by police in October after entering a home, but managed to escape into a nearby wooded area, and is presumed dead.
Businck said the key for the public is to report wildlife activity as soon as it’s observed so officers can take non-lethal measures to prevent conflict before a bear’s behaviour gets out of hand.
“If people wait too long to call in (bear sightings) and they see a bear who’s behaviour is escalating, all of a sudden if that bears starts breaking into homes and things like that, we’ve got a limited number of options,” he said.
A total of 252 have been killed in Whistler in the past 25 years as a result of human-caused conflict, according to figures provided by The Get Bear Smart Society. There are currently around 50 bears living in the Whistler area.
But bears aren’t the only large wildlife that have been spotted in the area recently. On Saturday, April 11, the COS received a report of a cougar roaming in Spring Creek, but it wasn’t cause for alarm, said Businck.“It was just a sighting of a cougar crossing the area early in the morning,” he said. “That’s not really a rare occurrence.”
To report wildlife sightings, call the Conservation Officer Service at 877-952-7277.