By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Sept. 21, 2013
Plenty of berries might be keeping bears out of our way, resulting in a low wildlife activity this year compared to last.
Three bears were relocated this year; one destroyed due to human-wildlife conflict, and two others destroyed due to injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident.
“There appears to be ample summertime natural food, one factor to why we are having a low activity this year,” said Meg Toom, the Squamish WildSafe BC Community Coordinator.
There have been fewer wildlife conflicts this year all across the province and abundance of berries is a plausible reason for it.
“It’s when their natural food sources are scarce, like 2012, when we get higher activity years,” she said.
The year 2012 wasn’t a good year to be a bear.
Conservation officers destroyed 12 bears last year, while nine were killed in motor vehicle accident, and seven were relocated.
Once again, berries provide a clue.
A wet spring and unseasonably dry weather during the summer and fall last year caused a scarcity of berries, forcing bears to forage for food in the valley.
With the repopulation of the Upper Squamish Valley and Mamquam Watershed with Roosevelt Elk, sightings of elk are also being reported.
In fact, two elk were struck and killed on Highway 99 within close proximity to the downtown core, with one pregnant elk killed adjacent to the Squamish Adventure Centre.
A particular stretch of Highway 99, between Cleveland Avenue and Depot Road, seems to be a throughway for wildlife.
From 2009 to 2011, Squamish also held the top spot for number of cougar sightings, although there have been few sightings this year.
One cougar was ‘humanely destroyed’ due to injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident.
In May this year, B.C. Conservation Foundation started a new program called BC Wildsafe Program, an extension of the Bear Aware program.
An extension of Bear Aware, it aims to cover education on all forms of wildlife that come into contact with people in urban settings.
The overall goal is to reduce human-wildlife conflict through education, innovation, and cooperation.
“We now have the flexibility to adapt to each of our community’s needs in relation to what kind of wildlife conflicts are occurring,” said Meg Toom, the WildSafe BC coordinator.
WildSafe BC provides the ability to discuss not just bears, such as with the Bear Aware Program, but any wildlife particular to the community.
“In Squamish, I focus on bears, cougars and coyotes,” Toom added.