With the warmer months approaching, Vancouver’s local black bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for a feast, but residents should take precautions to ensure the friendly bears don’t come knocking on their doors.
There are an estimated 120,000 to 160,000 black bears in British Columbia, and spotting one in Metro Vancouver is becoming more common thanks to our growing land development and easy supply of snacks. On Vancouver’s North Shore, it is all too frequent for residents to see a bear sifting through garbage or simply wandering down the street.
Though these bears typically avoid confronting humans when possible, their habituation into our communities makes them more familiar with humans and fear us less, especially when they have easy access to food. According to the District of West Vancouver, garbage is the cause of 80 per cent of interactions between humans and bears on the North Shore.
“Almost all of these bears were attracted into neighbourhoods by improperly stored garbage and other attractants. Bears can smell garbage and other potential food sources over great distances. When bears learn that garbage is food, they will come back to it again and again,” the District of North Vancouver states on their Bear Awareness page.
Aside from safety disturbances, the unfortunate aspect of bears being in our neighbourhoods is that many of them will be killed. According to North Vancouver, over 1,000 bears are killed every year in B.C., and “when bears become conditioned to garbage and other non-natural foods, often the only practical solution is to kill them. Relocation is usually unsuccessful and is dangerous and expensive.”
Bears’ diets should normally consist of berries, green vegetation, roots, insects, grubs and carrion.
Residents can help keep bears happy and healthy by doing the following:
Despite all measures, bears may still be found wandering Vancouver neighbourhoods. In the occasion that you spot a bear, you can call the Ministry of Environment (if in the City of Vancouver) at 1-877-952-7277. The North Shore Bear Society also recommends the following: