Where’s the bears?

Lynsey Kitching
Where are the bears? It’s a question that Brad Lacey has been asking after an uneventful fall. 
“It’s been an exceptionally quiet fall in terms of bear complaints or interactions both from residential areas as well as industrial camps and the oil and gas industry,” says Lacey, a Conservation Officer out of Dawson Creek. 
“I think when the green up came it was so broad that the bears didn’t congregate this year because there was lots of food this summer,” says Lacey. “Tumbler Ridge is fortunate to have green spaces and bear corridors,” says Lacey. With this vast vegetation available for the bears this summer, bears have been quiet and not visible in their usual spots such as south facing slops where they always were.
Though the conservation office hasn’t had any calls, Lacey says it is still important to take caution when out hiking on the trails in town or playing at the golf course because these areas usually provide opportunities for berries to grow and thus attract bears. 
Even with this rare fall Lacey explains why as humans we need to be smart, “Now is the time when they are on the push for food in order to build up fat reserves for hibernation. Anything that may be food can be food. With that kind of survival mechanism, it causes bears to come into contact with potential foods. Even if you think it’s not food, it could be food. For example, a five gallon bucket of grease, Armor All spray on quads or snowmobile seats is an attractant because it has an odor,” Lacey continues, “Bears show attraction to non-food items. Sometimes this is why they come into contact with people.” With this in mind, it is also important for us humans to be aware of our practices around the house. Bears can come and check out the garbage at residences or businesses, compost piles or fertilizers around shrubs or flowers (especially if fish fertilizer). Anything we can smell has potential for them to show interest. It’s also very important for hunters out there to make sure they take precautions when cutting their own meat hides or disposing of meat trimmings.
If you’re not a hunter and are ok with being heard, bear bells are a common device used by people to ward off bears and let them know you’re coming. Lacey says, “Anything you can do to make them aware of your presence, especially talking or singing. Bear bells can pose a curiosity factor, especially younger bear’s first time out; however, I’d rather have a bear know where you’re at. Early warning devices are good.”
It’s also important to look after and control our pets. Lacey advises us to walk our dogs on a leash because often, dogs still look to us as protectors. “You never know how a dog will react. We can’t control bears but we can control what we do as people. If you contact a bear, don’t run. Find the safest way away from it.” warns Lacey. 
If you concerns about a bear in the community call RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters): 1877-952-7277.