Increase in wild animal sightings in the Lakes District

Wolves were recently spotted in Southbank and bear activity increasing this year.

As bears are building up their fat reserves to prepare for hibernation, the Burns Lake and Houston areas have seen an increase in bear activity over the last couple of weeks.

According to Ron Leblanc, Conservation Officer for the Skeena Region, the increase in bear activity is in part due to the early berry crop.

“I would like to remind the public to secure local attractants such as garbage and food scraps,” said LeBlanc. “Any discarded fruit from trees should also be picked up.”

In addition, LeBlanc said wolves were recently spotted in Southbank. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has responded to several reports of wolves killing cattle in Northern B.C. this year.

According to the ministry of environment, wolves are generally not a threat to humans. Usually once a wolf has spotted or winded a human it will run away without the person even knowing it was there. If a wolf is spotted close to your residence, however, here’s what to do:

• Do not approach wolves ever;

• Do not allow a wolf to approach any closer than 100 metres;

• Back away slowly, do not turn your back on a wolf;

• Bring children and pets inside until the wolf has left the area;

• Raise your arms and wave them in the air to make yourself look larger;

• When in a group, act in unison to send a clear message to the wolves they are not welcome.

Here are a few tips to keep bears away from your residence:

• Pick fruit daily as it ripens; don’t allow it to fall;

• Pick the fruit before it ripens if you don’t intend to use it right away;

• Keep garbage containers indoors – inside a locked shed, garage, or basement until pick-up day;

• Keep outdoor storage containers, such as those for pet foods and livestock feed, air-tight and odour free. Use bear-resistant containers whenever possible, or better still, keep supplies indoors;

• Dogs may be effective at warning you if a bear is nearby, but make sure all dogs are restrained or in a fenced yard;

• Enclose fruit trees, livestock, or beehives with strong chain-link or electric fencing;

• Dispose of garbage regularly – don’t stockpile it or it will begin to smell and attract bears;

• Never leave fish parts, meat bones, or other meat by-products where a bear’s sensitive nose can find them – keep them in your freezer until you can dispose of them properly;

• Sprinkle your compost with lime. Lime aids the composting process, and also reduces the smell, discouraging bears;

• Be watchful at barbecues. The smell from cooking meat attracts bears;

• Store barbecues inside;

• Wash grills immediately after use. The smell of an uncleaned grill can attract bears even if it is stored.

If a wild animal appears to be threatening, persistent, or aggressive, call the conservation officer service at 1-877-952-7277.