On Sept. 23, 2017 a Houston resident spotted a fearless black bear in their yard near Mount Davis Way.
Anjali Aman said that she yelled at the bear but it was not scared and only looked at her with interest.
When asked if there is a bear problem in Houston, Michal Bartos, Conservation Officer in Smithers said, “I wouldn’t call it a problem, however a fair amount of bear activity has been noted in the communities. The challenge of September going into October for bears is that the food sources in bushes are dwindling, and they are doing their typical routine to gain calories. So there is a higher increase for bear encounters.”
Bartos said if residents encounter bears near their homes that they should remain calm. “The bear is most likely passing through. If it doesn’t find food, it will simply move on.”
Residents are advised to keep away from the bear, warn others of its whereabouts and to bring children and pets indoors.
“If the bear seems threatening or persistent, call a conservation officer,” said Bartos.
According to the Discouraging Bears at Home pamphlet provided by Barots, if you see a bear never approach the bear and do not run from it. Do not act submissively by crouching down or whispering.”
Bartos explained that especially during this time of year when bears are out preparing for hibernation, homeowners can take precautions to reduce chances of bear encounters in their yard.
These include storing garbage inside until pick up, making sure bins are properly sealed, freeze pungent waste until pick-up day, wash and clean cans, jars, and recyclables where appropriate, and don’t through cooking oil or grease outside.
Garbage is not the only item that attract bears. Fruits trees, compost, and small livestock feeders are also contributors.
According to the Discouraging Bears at Home, pick fruit daily as it ripens, consider replacing unwanted fruit tress with other trees, and don’t allow windfall to accumulate on the ground.
The pamphlet also encourages residents to use a proper compost bin, to turn over compost regularly, and to cover it with leaves, lime and soil to reduce odours.
“Fish, meat, fat, oils, unrinsed eggshells or any cooked foods should not go into the compost either,” states the pamphlet.
Livestock and pet feed should be secured and pet dishes brought indoors.
Residents should also place bird-feeders out of bears reach, keep the area free of seeds, and avoid using bird-feeders in the summer, spring and fall.
Other yard and property bear-aware maintenance checklist include cleaning barbecues after each use, thin out brush to reduce natural cover to buildings and along paths, leave natural paths of escape for bears that may wander looking for food, don’t store food in outdoor freezers, don’t leave coolers or other items containing food smells in the yard, enclose beehives with electric fencing and never leave garbage bags (regardless of what is in them) in the yard.
According to the pamphlet, more than 1000 bears are killed every year in B.C. because of bear-human conflicts. Exposure to humans causes bears to loose their natural fear of people.
Contact 1-877-952-7277 to report bear incidents to a conversation officer.