Though often elusive in their natural habitat, black bears were very visible in the Agassiz-Harrison area recently.
According to WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP) map, there were seven black bear sightings called in since the transition week from April to May, six of which were in Agassiz and one in Harrison Hot Springs.
Sgt. Mike Sargent of the Agassiz RCMP confirmed police and B.C. Conservation officers were notified of a black bear sighting in the Agassiz area in the past few days. Denyce Timmers posted video footage on a local Facebook group of a black bear wandering through an area yard.
Of the seven calls recorded via WARP, only one encounter was listed as “food conditioned,” in which the bear was attracted to garbage somewhere along Kalyna Drive in Agassiz. The bear encounter in Harrison Hot Springs took place off of Walnut Avenue at the end of April. The encounter was listed as aggressive toward pets in the area.
These sightings serve as a reminder for the community to remain vigilant when it comes to wildlife. Though black bear and other potential nuisance or dangerous wildlife calls were limited in this part of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), it’s consistent effort on residents’ part – especially while living in coronavirus-related isolation – that will keep it that way.
“With more people staying home due to COVID-19 and some waste and recycling services impacted as a result of the pandemic response, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant about keeping bear attractants at bay,” Officials from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy wrote in a recent statement about black bear season.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 12 calls reported to WARP. A cougar was the first sighting of the year, spotted near Fielder Road off of the Lougheed Highway. Since then, there was another cougar spotted near Agassiz on May 4 near Mackay Crescent. Following FVRD-wide trends, a bulk of these calls were black bear-related, but an injured coyote, a dead elk (both in the Agassiz area) and a bobcat spotted in Harrison Mills rounded out this year’s calls so far.
According to the FVRD WildSafeBC report last year, there were 1,158 wildlife calls in the district, 838 of which where bear-related. June was the peak of wildlife/human conflict last year with a smaller spike in autumn, particularly in September and October.
WildSafeBC reported 60 per cent of calls concerning black bears involved the bears being attracted to garbage. Officials encourage residents to secure garbage in a secure storage area until pickup day or to invest in bear-resistant containers. The containers should remain tightly closed as much as possible. If garbage can’t be stored securely, WildSafeBC recommends keeping smelly items frozen until they can be deposited in the bin on the morning of collection day.
Pet food, compost, barbecues, fruit trees, bird feeders and livestock feed are also listed as common bear attractants. For more tips on how to be more bear aware, visit wildsafebc.com/black-bear.
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