A black bear spotted near Fernie in 2020. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

No bears yet in the area, but warmer weather signals end of hibernation

WildsafeBC says they’ll be coming out of hibernation any time now

The end of winter means that bears will soon be on the hunt for good eats around the East Kootenay, as warmer weather raises them from their winter hibernation.

WildsafeBC Coordinator for the Elk Valley, Kathy Murray, said that while there hadn’t been any reports of bears being active in the area yet, it was likely to happen “any time now.”

“Between mid-march and April the bears will be emerging from their dens and moving to the valley bottom to feed on greenery,” she said. “Be prepared and expect to encounter bears and any other wildlife at any time. They are going to travel great distances for food, and they’ll often be drawn into residential areas and neighbourhoods for an easy meal.”

Murray said the warmer weather over the past few weeks was a good opportunity for locals to walk their yards and look for possible bear attractants – and given the warmer weather, it was also time to reign in any winter habits.

“I know over a winter a lot of people get in the habit of keeping their garbage carts outdoors – it’s easier to leave it close to the curb so you don’t have to drag it through the snow. Just bring that inside and keep it indoors or in a garage and remove any other attractants.”

Heading into spring and on to summer, she said that it was important for pet owners to be responsible – especially given there were so many new dog owners in the valley.

“Just remember that bears and other wildlife will perceive dogs as a threat. Over 50 per cent of black bear attacks on people in North America involve dogs, so lets really promote responsible pet ownership – keeping dogs on a leash and under control.”

For the warm weather to come, Murray said she expected (like last year) for there to be far more backcountry users and more hikers/bikers on trails, meaning there was more potential for human – wildlife conflict.

READ MORE: Bear sightings above average in Fernie area in 2020

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