Hundreds of black bears and more than a dozen grizzlies have been killed in British Columbia this year due to conflicts with humans.
Overall, the latest figures from the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) show there were more than 20,000 conflicts between wildlife and humans reported in BC this year.
Last week, Chris Doyle, deputy chief of the BC COS, provided a further breakdown on that overall total.
Doyle said that 14,00o of the recorded incidents involved black bears, 1,500 of them involved cougars, and 430 reports involved grizzly bears.
Meanwhile, Micheal Badry, COS Wildlife Conflict Manager, says that to date, 27 grizzlies have been killed in the province – either out of necessity by COS, or by “others.”
The number is much higher when it comes to black bears, however, with 469 black bears province-wide killed as a result of conflicts this year, he said.
And with the fall season now in full force, those totals could still climb higher.
Typically, the fall season “is a time when we’ll see an increase in conflicts with bears, due to the fact that these bears are trying to put on weight for denning for the winter, so they’re highly motivated to find food,” said Badry.
Badry also provided a further breakdown on the number of bear casualties that have resulted from conflicts this year.
Stay vigilant, be bear aware
While these numbers are no doubt high, Badry said that compared to other years, this year has been “pretty average” compared to other years.
“Spring was busy, but late summer and fall was relatively quiet,” he explained.
And while the quieter fall has been good news for the COS, Badry said it’s important for people to remain “vigilant” when it comes to minimizing the chances of human-bear conflict, and ideally, eliminating those encounters altogether.
“We still have a month left [in the season],” he noted. “We really put the emphasis on attractant management; that people need to make sure bears aren’t getting access to their garbage or their fruit trees, or any other food item that bears are going to find attractive.”
When it comes to how the COS responds to a human-wildlife conflict, “what they’re really assessing is what’s the risk of that animal to public safety,” Badry explained.
“COS is responsible for public safety… and that’s what dictates their response.”