The amount of cattle being killed by bears in the Cariboo region is higher than it has been in four years, the Conservation Officer Service says.
“We’ve done about 76 verifications with producers who have lost cattle to predators and around 37 to 40 per cent of those are from bear attacks,” said Darrell Ashworth of the COS in Williams Lake.
“Most of the cattle lost have been calves that are vulnerable for the first couple months of life.”
Bears attack on the back, Ashworth said in reference to how kills are verified.
Ashworth said he is not sure why the number of bear attacks is on the rise.
“It’s an interesting trend. My suspicion is because we’ve had such an early spring this year and everything is two to three weeks ahead of schedule and the bears have come out earlier.”
In June, bears are breeding so they are very mobile, he added.
“They breed, have a delayed gestation of about eight months and have babies in February.”
Another five to 10 per cent of the verified kills have been attributed to coyotes and the rest by wolves, who are still the predominant predator for livestock in the region, he said.
Big Lake has been hit hard again this year with wolf attacks and there has been a bit of an increase in the Horsefly area as well.
“Sixty per cent of our complaints come from west of the Fraser River,” Ashworth said.
Ranchers are also contending with a grasshopper problem this year, attributed to a dry spring.