The whole summer season has been notorious for bear problems in Houston.
There have been multiple bear sightings around the district which has created an uproar on social media.
Sergeant Stuart Bates, B.C. Conservation Officer said, “There’s a lot of bears. We don’t know what is the cause. It might be a multitude of bad berries and high fruit trees in town. It maybe the fires which we don’t know.”
According to Bates, last year, there had been 54 calls in Burns Lake. This year in August, there had been 92 calls. Granisle last year was 17 calls and this year in August was 37 calls. Houston last year was 57 calls and this August there had been 29 calls.
Bates said, the cause of bear attraction is because of garbage, fruit trees and bird feeders. If the bears don’t have access to them they leave and if they have access they stay.
Bates said, “I mean, it isn’t a good year bad year. It is always the same. There is always going to be bears coming in and around the communities right.”
He is suggesting that people need to secure their garbages and fruit trees which is number one priority.
He said, “Keep your garbage inside your garage or inside your shed. If you don’t have another wooden structures, talk to your city for bear resistant bins. If you are allowed to make your own bear barrier system, start with the fruit trees. If you have fruit trees and using the fruit then pick it. Definitely do not let the fruit sit on the ground. The rotting fruit smells for miles. If you have fruit bearing trees that are just basically one of the foods you are not using, seriously think about removing. The bears are just going to keep coming year after year to those trees. If you are using the fruit, that’s fine but then you have to take it before the bears get there.”
Within the last 20 days, Bates said, “We have got 90 calls. Two or three times a day we are getting calls just in Burns Lake.”
So far, nine bears in Burns Lake and four bears in Granisle had been put down. At press time the conservation officer could not say how many bears had been killed in Houston.
Bates said, “We have received roughly 300 calls for just black bears this month, which is roughly a little over 10 calls a day. I don’t know maybe multiple calls on one bear but you get the idea.”
Bates also said, “Bears become what’s called human habituated and then they become food conditioned. They learned to associate non natural foods to be around people. So, now we have a bear that is not afraid of people and thinks of food when he sees them. In some cases, they were showing aggression and in other cases, they show the opposite of it. In one case, an officer walked up to a bear four feet of it. Not a good plan.”
He continued to say, “If anybody can walk up to a bear within a couple of feet within an arms length, its not a good sign. It can be fatal. So yes, the bear should be afraid of people.”
He wants people to do their part. Bates said, “When bears lose their food because of people, that’s usually when we put them down.”
Bates said, the bear bangers will keep on continuing until the bears go to sleep in November.