–Debbie Read, Wild Wise Sooke
Sooke Black bears have had a recent big increase in sightings and have been reported in and around town, on both sides of the area and in town or we could just say – bears everywhere!. It’s out of control! Most of the reports have been of black bears in garbage.
There have also been reports of both mothers with this year’s cubs (the wee little ones) and mothers with yearlings (last year’s cubs) throughout the area. We don’t want these cubs learning to eat garbage.
Remember that mother bears are incredibly protective of their young. You should continue to expect to see bears in a variety of places around town including popular and well travelled trails. Make noise, travel in groups, keep pets on leash, carry bear spray and know how to use it.
It is now mating season for bears. The courting rituals involve a very persistent male bear following a female for several days, eventually secluding her in an area such as a ridge line or valley. They will remain together for several days before going their separate ways. The bears may have a very low tolerance for the presence of humans and display aggressive behaviour.
Bears continue to be drawn into town by garbage, Compost, bird feeders and pet foods and by a current lack of high caloric natural food. The berries will come out soon. Then bears will be attracted to the forest, if there is no garbage in town to attract them to stay.
People who leave out garbage and other attractants need to take responsibility for what happens when a bear becomes habituated.
People have to look at this problem seriously and look at the animals in the eyes, and realize they are responsible for the death of that animal.
Bears can seek out these foods, regardless of their proximity to human activity; they can develop a high tolerance to human presence if there is food available. Garbage contributes to how bears can become habituated. From a public safety perspective, bears can become so engrossed in eating, they become unaware of human activity, and can be easily startled. This can elicit a defensive type response from the bear, particularly females with cubs.
Help keep bears wild and everyone safe by removing yard attractants. Ensure that BBQs are clean, bird feeders are taken down, pet food is kept indoors and garbage is placed inside a secure building or in sealed bear proof garbage bins. If you notice any garbage left outside of bear proof bins report it.
Bears have a strong sense of smell and can smell garbage from two kilometers away. Garbage brings bears into town.
Human-use continues to increase in the Sooke area; hence, wildlife and people are increasingly competing for a finite amount of space. This area is home to several, while at the same time functions as a major movement corridor for many wildlife species, including bears and cougars.
Every year numerous interactions between people and wildlife occur. Although most interactions are harmless to both people and wildlife, some can become a serious public safety threat resulting in public injury, property damage and/or dead wildlife.
Be aware of your surroundings, even on popular and well visited trails around town. If you see a mother bear and cub do not approach and make sure to give them lots of space!
Help keep wildlife wild by making sure your yard is free of attractants. If you are planting trees and shrubs, look for non-fruit bearing plants such as the Spring Snow Flowering Crab, which have beautiful spring blossoms without the fruit.
Join Wild Wise Sooke Volunteer Program, which provides opportunities for the public to become volunteers by helping distribute educational materials and assist with outreach programs
Debbie Read-Urban Wildlife Conflict Specialist
WILD WISE SOOKE Community program is a proactive conservation strategy that encourages efforts by communities to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions.
Be Bear Wise
Keeping our community safe and wildlife wild
- The importance of properly storing garbage: be bear wise!
- Understanding (and avoiding) bear habituation, so no bears have to die
- Wild Wise Sooke: Bears out in Sooke, full force!
- Sooke man chases bear away from the safe side of the window (video)
- Increased bear sightings, what you need to know, and how to keep bears alive
- Bear sightings at Potholes, between parking lots 3 and 2
- How bears communicate (Video)
- A sure sign of spring for residents of Sooke is the return of bears.
- Bear in Area signs emerge from hibernation
- Bear conflicts are on the rise