Burns Lake bear encounter a cautionary tale

It’s unclear what did more to wake up a Burns Lake resident on the morning of May 27: his coffee or the bear in his backyard.

As he made his coffee, a large brown bear was seen snacking on a patch of grass just outside his window.

When he opened the backdoor, the bear ran off into the woods.

Despite the high number of bear sightings this month, there haven’t been more than usual, a government spokesperson said.

“The volume of calls that the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service are receiving in regards to bear complaints are normal for this time of year,” as Glen Small, Conservation Officer with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy told Lakes District News.

Though the May 27 encounter ended well for both parties, many bears in B.C. aren’t always so lucky and more than 1,000 are killed each year amid human-bear conflicts, said the B.C. Conservation Foundation.

“Almost all of these bears were attracted into neighbourhoods by improperly stored garbage and other attractants. Exposure to humans causes bears to lose their natural fear of people. When this happens, bears become a potential threat,” said the foundation.

The best way to not attract the large animals is to refrain from leaving outside garbage cans, pet and livestock food and compost piles.

Birdfeeders should be kept out of bears’ reach and seeds should be cleared away.

Pick fruit from fruit trees daily and don’t allow fruit to accumulate on the ground.

Beehives should be enclosed with electric fencing, and barbecue grills should be burned off after use.

If a bear comes onto the property, the Conservation Foundation advises that people stay calm and remain indoors.

“Often the bear is simply looking for food and will move on if it finds nothing to eat.”

If it climbs a tree, keep people and pets away and eventually the bear will climb down and leave.

If the bear stays around too long or becomes aggressive or threatening, call the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 or local police.

For more information on being “Bear Aware” check out the website www.bearaware.bc.ca

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
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