Facebook photos of bears gambolling in backyards and on streets hide a grim truth.
Those cute and cuddly bears may have to be destroyed if they become habituated to human garbage and other attractants.
Typically, September is the busiest season for bear activity says Tri-Cities Bear Aware Communitiy Group coordinator Carla Scott, although she noted bear season started early this year.
“The blackberries dried up very quickly because of the temperature, I have noticed an increase in activity, it started earlier in August, when typically it starts in September,” said Carla Scott, who volunteers to educate people about bears in the city of Port Moody.
Scott’s comments mirror what’s happening in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, where people are seeing bears in the neighbourhood.
But already, seven bears have been destroyed since April 1 in the Tri-Cities due to conflicts resulting in public safety concerns.
B.C. Ministry of Environment statistics show Coquitlam is the hot spot for complaints about bears and five were destroyed by the Conservation Officer Service (COS) because of conflict arising from attractants.
Port Coquitlam and Port Moody saw just one bear euthanized in each city.
Still, the Tri-Cities is doing better than last year when 14 bears were destroyed.
Numbers of complaints are also down about 25 per cent this year, from 2,100 to 1,561.
Coquitlam had the highest number of bear calls (875), followed by Port Coquitlam (439) and Port Moody (247).
So far this summer, four bears have been hazed out of neighbourhoods and none have been taken to Critter Care.
Last year, six bear cubs were brought to the Langley wildlife rehabilitation centre.
Fewer complaints and bear deaths could be the result of increasing public awareness.
Indeed, Scott said she's doing her best to educate people and many are quick to adapt new measures to secure their attractants to avoid potential conflicts with bears.
Scott encourages people to eliminate all bear attractants, including tree fruit, and her volunteers will even help pick your fruit.