B.C. bear problems surge this fall

Hunter attacked by grizzly near Smithers, seven bears trapped and relocated from Bella Coola

B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service has recorded more than 18,000 human-animal conflicts since April 1, many of them bears attracted by fruit trees or garbage as they forage for food to fatten up for winter.

Chris Doyle, deputy chief of the service, said Thursday the number of incidents this year has been about average, picking up in September and October. Notable incidents include:

• A hunter was mauled by a grizzly bear in the afternoon of Oct. 1 near Morin Lake, northeast of Smithers.

“The hunter stepped over a log and came face to face with a large grizzly,” Doyle said. “The bear attacked him and then turned to leave. The hunter fired two shots, hitting the bear, and then he was able to walk out to his ATV where he was able to find assistance from two other hunters in the area and was transported to hospital, where he was treated for injuries.”

A dead grizzly bear weighing about 360 kg (800 lb.) was later found, and is believed to be the bear that attacked.

• A grizzly bear killed a moose and buried it as a food cache among a dozen cabins at Hudson Bay Mountain near Smithers. Conservation Officers were called to the area Oct. 4, where after “considerable effort” they were able to scare the bear away and relocate the moose carcass away from the cabins.

The moose had been buried at the start of a popular hiking trail and a hiker reported a bear eating berries in the area on Oct. 3. The bear was not injured or tranquilized, Doyle said.

• Conservation Officers have trapped and relocated seven grizzly bears near Bella Coola on the B.C. central coast in the past week. Bears gather to feed on salmon in the Bella Coola River, and when the salmon are depleted they have turned to abandoned fruit trees and garbage.

“This time of year, bears are trying to pack on as many calories as possible prior to denning, and fruit trees and garbage continue to be strong attractants driving conflicts,” Doyle said.

• At least 20 black bears have been destroyed by Conservation Officers in the Revelstoke area this year, one of several communities where human-bear conflicts have been high in 2016.

 

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