A high density of grizzly bears in the Bella Coola area and habituated black bears around Quesnel and Williams Lake are keeping the Conservation Officer Service busy, said Sgt. Jeff Tyre of the Cariboo region.
“The grizzlies are in Bella Coola because of the salmon returns,” Tyre told the Tribune.
“There are a lot of bears in a small valley that’s great for growing fruit and lots of folks that live next to the travel corridors and spawning channels full of fish.”
A WildSafeBC program in Bella Coola is making headway with electric fencing, Tyre said, noting it is effective with grizzlies and black bears.
“We’ve done some work in the Cariboo with electric fencing for beehives and protecting sheep and would like to see more here.”
However, the density of bears is still a challenge and the COS is receiving a large number of calls.
Tyre is trying to schedule officer visits to the Bella Coola area at least once a week and officers have been putting a bigger effort into hazing bears there.
With the use of rubber bullets and bean bags, officers hit the bears in the rump so that they associate an explosive sound and people with the pain.
“The fish are there, Tyre said.
“We know the bears are going to be there and there is going to be some interaction with people. We just want them to move off into another direction when they see a person or go to areas where they can avoid humans altogether.”
Habituated bears in the Quesnel and Williams Lake area are going after the same old attractants, he added.
“If people would put their garbage away where the bears cannot access it and pick the fruit on their trees that would help a lot to reduce the amount of the attraction and the bears’ deaths.”
So far two bears were destroyed in Williams Lake, Tyre said, noting they were both nuisance bears “heavily” into garbage and out frequently during the day and in close proximity to people
Bear traps have been placed in some areas, but they do not have much success if there are attractants nearby.
“Why go in the cold hard trap when you have a smorgasbord right next door?” Tyre added.