To date this year the Conservation Officer Service based in Smithers have had 390 bear complaints.
CO Cam Schley said that it had been a notably quiet summer for animal complaints in their region — which spans from Houston to Stewart — but from the last week in August the number of wild animal calls have spiked.
In 2010, he said there were 459 problem wildlife complaints, which included an average amount of black bear reports but an above average amount of grizzlies.
Telkwa has become quite busy for problem bears in the past few weeks. On Sept. 6 the office had six wildlife complaints, which has been about the average amount of calls since sightings spiked late August.
The bears that COs have been called to are very habituated and show little fear of people.
Schley said he stood just 20 feet from a bear last week and the bear did not seem fazed at all.
A black bear was also reported during the Telkwa Demolition Derby just across the road from where the activities were happening. Normally bears won’t come near such a loud event.
COs have had to destroy four black bears so far in the Telkwa area. Sightings have been reported in many areas of the town, including near Telkwa Elementary School.
Schley suggested a failed berry crop in higher elevations have forced the bears to come into towns to find food. There have been similar spikes in bear reports all over the area, including Smithers and Hazelton.
It is unknown exactly how many bears are roaming in the Telkwa area.
Schley said that the COs in this area don’t usually issue violation tickets to residents for having attractants out but added that most in the area are quite receptive to feedback from officers and will usually fix any issue if they’re alerted to it.
While uncommon, it’s not unheard of for a bear to turn aggressive. In July COs reported that a woman in the Granisle area had been attacked by a black bear after a woman’s dog lured an angry bear back to her.
Information about bears and how to avoid conflict can be found online at http://bearaware.bc.ca/ — that is the B.C. Conservation Foundation’s website.