B.C. Conservation Officers took more than 700 enforcement actions and laid 76 charges in a province-wide crackdown on unsecured bear attractants that ran through this summer and fall.
Audits of every region were mostly conducted in September and October, when bears are foraging to prepare for winter hibernation and grapes, apples and other fruits ripen in yards and farms. This adds to the chronic issue of unsecured household garbage, pet food and bird seed that causes many of the thousands of human-bear conflicts officers deal with each year, resulting in some cases in bears being killed.
The audits resulted in 704 inspections, 76 charges under the B.C. Wildlife Act, 301 warnings and 355 dangerous wildlife protection orders, which direct a property owner to remove an attractant or face a $575 fine.
“The Conservation Officer Service cannot stress enough that the best way to keep people safe and bears from being destroyed is to secure attractants around your home, business or campsite,” said Doug Forsdick, chief conservation officer for B.C.
Forsdick notes that while killing animals that become habituated to human food sources is the last resort to protect the public, relocated wildlife often fail to adapt to their new habitat. As a result, they may travel long distances, starve or return to their original area or another community in search of easy food.
The B.C. government has an online guide for managing attractants at wildsafebc.com/live/ a “Bear Smart” community program to help people prevent the sometimes fatal attraction of bears to food sources.
Statistics by region from the 2019 audit:
Kootenay: 159 inspections, 108 enforcement actions
Okanagan: 49 inspections, 133 enforcement actions
Omineca: 66 inspections, 50 enforcement actions
Peace: 51 inspections, 57 enforcement actions
Skeena: 78 inspections, 54 enforcement actions:
South Coast: 79 inspections, 202 enforcement actions
Thompson-Cariboo: 146 inspections, 33 enforcement actions
West Coast: 76 inspections, 95 enforcement actions