Posted on September 16, 2010
Beware The Bears
Sharing our space with any number of wild animals is a part of everyday life on Vancouver Island. Deer roam our streets, elk cross our highways, bunnies hop across our front yards and occasionally black bears will make their presence known around the neighbourhood. With winter around the corner, it’s high season for hungry black bears that are looking to fill their bellies before hibernation begins.
While berries and wild salmon are their preferred diet, brave bears are finding their way into residential areas for food scraps. That said, here are a few tips* to help you to stay safe while sharing our Island with the black bear population:
- Don’t ever feed bears or purposefully leave food for them – doing so will only diminish their fear of humans, making them a larger threat.
- Stick to marked trails when hiking or biking and leave your pets at home. If you must bring them with you, keep your dog leashed at all times!
- Keep your eyes open for signs of bears in the area; this includes scat, claw marks, digging and shredded wood or stumps.
- Bring your garbage cans to the curb the day of pick-up, not the night before. Further, pet food should be stored indoors.
- With summer behind us, it’s likely that your BBQ is smothered with grease and/or food scraps. Make sure your BBQ is thoroughly cleaned – a bear’s sense of smell is its most keen sense!
- Vegetable gardens, berry bushes, fallen fruit from fruit trees and compost bins are prime targets for bears, so keep them tidy.
Photo: sointula on Flickr
Don’t let the name of the black bear fool you. Black bears can range in colour from jet black to cinnamon blonde and can weigh up to 500 pound or more, depending on the sex, age and time of year.
Black bears are typically less dangerous than their grizzly counterparts; however, should you encounter a black bear, it’s recommended that you back away slowly and calmly, never taking your eyes off the bear. Do not yell or wave your arms to provoke the bear. If a physical encounter is unavoidable, assume the fetal position and use your hands to protect the back of your neck with your head tucked under.