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North Shore residents call for crackdown on bear baiters: poll

Now is a critical time for bears, advocate says
bear trap 2 web
A bear trap waits on Braemar Road, April 28, 2021.

North Shore residents say they’d like to see the province and municipalities get tough on people who lure bears into residential neighbourhoods with garbage and other attractants.

North Shore News polled 1,382 readers and asked the question: Should the province change the way it deals with bears in urban areas?

The poll ran from Nov. 10 to 17. Of the 1,382 votes, we can determine that 636 are from within the community. The full results are as follows:

Yes, killing them should only be a last resort. 29.72% local, 28.87% total    
No, once they are habituated to humans and garbage, they can become a threat. 11.64% local, 12.81% total    
There should first be a crackdown on property owners who attract bears with garbage. 58.65% local, 58.32% total    
  Local   Total

Luci Cadman, executive director of the North Shore Black Bear Society, said she was happy to see community support for more enforcement. It comes at a critical time for bears, who are now in their hyperphagia stage, trying to pack on pounds before finding winter dens.

“They’re still very active in most communities, including the City of North Vancouver,” she said. “They certainly haven't gone to bed yet and won't be sleeping for some time.”

Last year, bears were turning up in human neighbourhods well into December, Cadman said. Denning season is starting later and ending earlier.

“We are seeing an extended season on the North Shore due to climate change, milder winters, and a huge, huge piece is the unnatural food availability, which is keeping bears active and awake,” she said, noting bears will skip their long winter’s nap entirely if they are able to continue finding food.

When they do wake up, their first order of business will likely be to go straight back to where they found their last good meal, which means it’s extra important to keep yards free of attractants now. This time of year, bird feeders are a problem, Cadman said.

“Much, much too early to be hanging bird feeders. Really, we would prefer that people didn't hang bird feeders at all. They do contribute to late winter activity from bears,” she said.

Garbage and food scraps also remain an issue. Cadman said everyone who has a garage should keep their trash indoors.

And residents need to get a bit tougher in reminding bears that they are not welcome in backyards, Cadman said.

“Please don't just silently film a bear as they walk around your property,” she said. “We want you to make a lot of noise from inside with your voice and tell the bear to go away. Don't let them get comfortable close to home.”

So far in 2021, four bears have been killed by conservation officers in West Vancouver and three have been killed in North Vancouver. Many of those had accessed confined spaces, Cadman said, although conservation officers have not told her about the specifics in each case.

Another two were struck by drivers and killed on the roads in West Van.

In late 2020, the District of North Vancouver adopted a zero-tolerance approach, automatically handing out $100 fines for residents who leave their garbage outside beyond the proscribed hours. So far this year, 1,167 tickets have been handed out. That has been a very effective step, Cadman said, but she added she’s seen very little enforcement of the Wildlife Act by BC Conservation Officer Service members.

Results are based on an online study of adult North Shore News readers who are located in North and West Vancouver. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 2.63%, 19 times out of 20.

North Shore News uses a variety of techniques to capture data, detect and prevent fraudulent votes, detect and prevent robots, and filter out non-local and duplicate votes.