A grizzly bear and its two cubs are seen in the Khutzeymateen Inlet near Prince Rupert, B.C., Friday, June, 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

A grizzly bear and its two cubs are seen in the Khutzeymateen Inlet near Prince Rupert, B.C., Friday, June, 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Extremely high number of bear reports in and around Kitimat

Conservation officers are asking residents to be bear aware.

Conservation officers are warning of an extreme uptick in grizzly bear behaviour in Kitimat and surrounding communities.

Zane Testawich, the Acting Sergeant in the Terrace office, is asking residents to exercise caution as he’s seen a substantial rise in calls and reports. While he didn’t have official numbers, he said the change from previous years is staggering.

“We’re fielding calls every day, including the weekends, evenings, afternoon hours and overnight hours about bears in the district,” he said.

This is normally a popular time to see bears, as they’re in hyperphagia, meaning they’re trying to eat as much as possible before the winter. What’s different, however, is the sheer quantity of calls officers are receiving.

The bears may be more active due to a successful fish and berry year, Testawich said. But this late in the season, they’re looking for more.

“Anything high calorie for them like garbage, birdfeeders or tree fruit. If they can smell it, they’re coming to eat it,” he said

Bears will sniff out anything high-calorie, and property owners should be cognizant of their waste, he said.

He is especially concerned about bears that are behaving erratically in close proximity to towns, like a grizzly sow and two cubs that have been spotted in strawberry meadows, just outside Kitimat.

“By the reports that we’re receiving, in my opinion, they’ve got some type of non-natural food reward.”

If you see any bear activity, you can contact Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) at 1-877-952-7277.

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