Despite reports in east Abbotsford neighbourhoods, bear sightings down overall

Conservation officers says bears are after an easy meal, not human interaction

Garry Dafoe

Garry Dafoe

Some residents of east Abbotsford have noticed some wildlife entering their yards, but reports of bear sightings in Abbotsford this year are down.

Last week, a woman in Auguston fought off a bear with a shovel after it climbed her fence and began to fight with her pit bull.

Conservation officer Don Stahl said the incident is “a really unique case, where a person goes after a bear to save their dog.”

Stahl said the woman’s yard backs onto a ravine, which are “natural bear highways” through east Abbotsford neighbourhoods. He said the bear likely entered the yard to eat from the bird feeders, and when confronted with a pit bull, saw it as a threat to her two young cubs.

He said that generally reports to conservation officers are simply sightings or bears getting into garbage.

There has been 148 calls to conservation about bears in Abbotsford so far this year, compared to about 400 in all of 2012.

Stahl said because most of the reports come in summer months, the number of sightings this year will likely be down overall. He added that this may be due to the fact that some bears were relocated last year and one was put down.

But, as reports of bears entering yards continue, Stahl said people can make changes in order to prevent run-ins with the animals.

Stahl said one of the main attractants for bears is bird feeders, as bird food is high in fat and an attractive meal for bears looking to bulk up for winter. He added that people can take down their feeders – birds have plenty of food sources in the summertime – and put them back up in mid-November when birds need them.

Stahl said another main attractant is garbage, and advised people to not put out any garbage until the morning of pick-up. For homeowners with fruit trees, the fallen ripe fruit can attract bears and Stahl said that picking it up, or taking ripe fruit from the trees, can help reduce the chance of bears entering into yards.

He said it is important to note that the bears are not seeking out interactions with people, but simply looking for an easy meal, and making sure that food is not accessible is the key to keeping bears away.

WildSafe BC staff will be in east Abbotsford this week on a door-to-door campaign to inform citizens how to be “bear aware.”