Bear Aware

Firstly, I?d like to clear up some misconceptions:

-I?m not a bear although I do resemble a grizzly in the morning

-I work for the BC Conservation Foundation which is a non-profit foundation. This means is I can offer the program here FREE OF CHARGE. If you have questions about bears, bear safety, how to manage domestic attractants, etc, call any time (242 0004). I?ll be happy to organize presentations for your social group or even just a casual chit chat at your home. ALL FREE OF CHARGE. Hey, money being put to good use finally eh?

It?s been a bear of a week here in the Ridge. I got yet another call about the bear at the highschool. It?s a full grown adult black bear. He likes the area behind the school between Monkman and the Highway. That?s where I found him. He was happily munching on some berries which would not be a bad thing at all if he weren?t so close to the school and the walking trails. He was just being a bear after all. It took some time to convince him that the food-rich wilderness on the other side of the highway would be much more inviting but after a while, he decided that I was right and went off back to the wild where he belongs.

Another serious incident is being followed very closely: a bear was reported to have been following a man on a bicycle (that is the man was on the bike, not the bear) on the road that leads past the RV campground to the dump. A very alert citizen saw what was going on and frightened the bear off with his truck. There were numerous sightings of this bear over the course of a single day, approaching people at the stables, growling at a young girl across from Steeprock, behind the fire hall and detachment, etc, etc. This is not normal behaviour for a black bear. As I mentioned last week, black bears are usually timid and run from people but some black bears have been known to act in a predatory manner towards humans. It is rare but does occur. This could have been such a bear. In any case, please be very very careful in the areas around Steeprock, the RV park, the dump and surrounding parkland.

The members at the detachment, Conservation Officer Brad Lacey and myself are trying to locate this bear and trap him for relocation.

I?ve been a little heavy handed lately regarding bear safety but this is why. We live in Tumbler Ridge and bears are everywhere. Your personal safety is your responsibility and therefore you should learn as much as you can about bears so you can mentally prepare yourself for the moment when you meet one.

I?ve spoken to people who are absolutely terrified of running into a bear and although I understand their concern, I find the more you know about bears, the better prepared you are to safely share in their wilderness home and the less likely you are to be attacked.

Let?s look at some hard numbers for the period between 1978-1995: In British Columbia four people were killed and 30 people were injured by grizzly bears while in the same period, nine people were killed and 79 injured by black bears. Putting that into perspective, when you consider the thousands upon thousands of people out enjoying and working in the wilderness, the likelihood of being attacked by a bear is still very rare.

Numbers are on your side but so is your brain. Humans are very weak compared to a full grown grizzly or black bear but our brains keep us at the top of our food chain. Let?s use them to be smart, responsible and bear aware.

If you see a bear, any bear, please call me with it?s location.

?Till next week, bear with me.