Maple Ridge bear complaints spiking

Hot dry summer has thrown bears off feeding schedule, says conservation

The B.C. Conservation Service warns residents to secure food sources so not to attract bears.

The B.C. Conservation Service warns residents to secure food sources so not to attract bears.

The Fraser Valley’s scorching summer is going to have a dramatic affect on wildlife this fall, said B.C. conservation officer Todd Hunter.

The hot, dry summer meant most berry crops ripened early. Blueberries came in weeks ahead of time and strawberry crops were some of the earliest in decades.

With crops weeks ahead of schedule, the feeding patters of bears will be thrown off, said Hunter.

The warm weather has also meant drier creeks, and Hunter said salmon stocks are extremely low this year, compounding the problem.

“We’re starting to see a big spike in the number of complaints,” he added.

For bears, now is the time they start their heavy feeding in hopes of bulking up for the winter.

With much of the food that bears rely on already picked or dried out, Hunter said they are inevitably going to be looking for alternatives. He said it’s imperative people make sure they don’t leave anything out that might attract them.

“These bears will be busy looking for something to eat. It’s important to lock everything up.”

There have been reports of a bear in north Pitt Meadows making its way into chicken coops.

And conservation officers had to kill a black bear that found its way into garbage in Golden Ears park earlier this summer.

Overall, Hunter said people have been getting lackadaisical in making sure nothing is left out to attract hungry bears.

Apple trees are one of the main targets once traditional sources dry up. He said people should pick their trees clean and clean up any that may be lying on the ground. He also suggested getting rid of fruit trees if they are not being harvested.

“If you’re not using them, lose them.”

The depleted food sources could result in greater numbers of bears making their way into the city. People living near green belts should be especially vigilant, added Hunter.

“I suspect we are going to see even more confrontations come September.”