Imagine being stalked by a black bear? Talk about terrifying.
BC Conservation Officer Service is warning folks in Port Hardy after a man was aggressively followed by a black bear in a residential neighbourhood.
Thankfully the man was okay. Scott Norris is an acting inspector for the BC Conservation Officer Service. He told the North Island Gazette that the man “was able to get to safety, and then the bear wandered off back to the mall.”
BC conservation officers have now euthanized two bears in Port Hardy that match the bear’s description.
Though bears aren’t normally aggressive like this, they are still at risk of being killed by conservation officers if they get too close to people.
Last year, provincial statistics show that 504 black bears were killed by the BC Conservation Officer Service, plus another 84 by other agencies or people.
BC Conservation says, “[p]utting down any bear is an unfortunate outcome that we work so hard to prevent.”
But bears are normally too smart to be relocated. Once they see towns as a food source, there’s only so long till they become a “safety issue.”
Diane Henley is a volunteer with Sunshine Coast Bear Alliance. She reported to My Campbell River Now that “[w]hen our bears get into non-natural food sources like garbage and other attractants, they start spending more time in our neighbourhoods and get deemed a safety risk.”
But, if communities band together to reduce attractants, we keep both us and our wildlife safer.
Garbage is the main thing we need to keep in a safe place. But there are many other yummy goodies that attract bears that most people don’t think about.
“Bird feeders are that number one attractant for bears,” said Henley. “They are such a high-calorie reward for them. We really encourage people to find other ways to feed their birds during the summer and bear season.”
Other ways to keep bears away include keeping your barbeque clean, picking up fallen fruit, sticking to indoor fridges and freezers, and keeping both car and home doors and windows locked.
If you see a bear in the neighbourhood, the best thing you can do is stay away.
Trying to record, take photos, or get a closer look is asking for trouble. It increases the odds that you and/or the bear won’t make it to next season.
But for the most part, black bears are fairly docile towards humans. Henley outlined the proper steps to take if you run into one around the block.
“If the bear has seen you just calmly put your arms out to the side and say, ‘Hey bear, I’m leaving,'” Henley says.
“They really are quite perceptible to tone of voice. Just remain calm and back away, don’t turn around, just back away and go the way you came.”
Then hopefully, the bear can go back the way they came as well.