During the morning of Thursday, September 7th, a 250-pound brown phase black bear made her way through the Fort Point neighbourhood scavenging garbage and ripe fruit from residents trees. The bear was later destroyed by conservation service after she was tracked down to the Bayshore Condo beach area.
“Just after 10:00 a.m., the calls started coming into us that the brown phase black bear was wandering around town eating fruit and getting the odd garbage that was left out in the Second Avenue area of town,” said Greg Kruger conservation officer.
In the days leading up to last Thursday, the bear was making herself known as the newest resident of the Wilder subdivision. The bear at that point was not posing a threat to the public and was easily scared away. On the evening on Wednesday, September 6th, the bear had returned to the Wilder subdivision after having already been scared off by local RCMP earlier in the day. The bear got into unsecured garbage on a residents deck and was reluctant to leave; eventually the animal dragged the garbage off and left the home.
Mr. Kruger stated in an interview to the Pioneer prior to the bear being destroyed that bears become an issue when they stop displaying fear of people and are reluctant to run away.
“We had a talk with the RCMP; they were of the same opinion that with this bear wandering at will through the residential areas of Invermere in broad daylight, that in itself presents a public safety risk if it’s just wrong place, wrong time encounter,” said Mr. Kruger.
The brown phase black bear was subsequently destroyed after her parade through residential areas of the District of Invermere showed her lack of fear of humans.
“It’s disconcerting to us, this behaviour with displaying very little fear of people and wandering around the community in the daytime,” said Mr. Kruger.
With the death of this bear, the total number of bears destroyed this summer has risen to six, which is just under the average for the area. Mr. Kruger reported over the long term of the last 15 to 20 years, the average destroyed per year is 8 to 10.
“There’s been some years where, before my time, quite a few bears had to be put down that came into the community,” said Mr. Kruger.
He added that destroying an animal is the last resort for conservation service, saying conservation tries to leave it as long as they can without posing a threat to public safety.
“We’ve had very good success with the wild bear population in our communities over the last couple years. Just this year we’re seeing an increase in the number of bear conflicts in the communities. These things go in cycles so it’s very hard to give you hard and accurate data as to what we have to deal with year by year because every year’s different,” said Mr. Kruger.
The biggest contributing factor for seeing these animals coming into the communities is a steady food source while preparing for hibernation. Residents need to be extra vigilant about securing their garbages and managing their fruit trees while the bears get ready for hibernation.
“The natural berry crops are starting to dry out. So that is the number one factor for bears in our communities which precipitates conflicts because they’re finding unnatural food sources that are not being properly secured or managed,” said Mr. Kruger.
In the District of Invermere, it is the bylaw department that is responsible for issuing tickets and warnings around bear attractants. This year 11 warnings have been issued and bylaw will begin ticketing non-compliant offenders beginning next week.
Residents and visitors to the Valley are reminded to give wildlife space when they’re seen in residential areas to reduce chances of the animal to respond defensively. Bear sightings are asked to be reported to the Report All Poachers and Polluters by calling 1-877-952-7277. For anyone struggling with fruit trees contact Wildsafe BC for assistance.