Fernie is currently being graced with an abundance of hungry bears.
A productive berry season, high birth rate of young cubs and a dry summer has meant more of the ursine wildlife has been drawn into communities in the area.
“We’ve had a really high number of bear reports, almost double the previous year,” said local WildsafeBC Coordinator, Kathy Murray.
There are anecdotal reports of bears right in the middle of downtown Fernie, and locals in the heart of town don’t have to wander far from their back door to find bear scat in their yards.
Murray said that given it had been a busy summer for us humans, it made sense that there would be more human-wildlife encounters as more people travelled through the area and explored the wilderness beyond town.
She stressed that locals had to remain vigilant in order to lessen the risk of bears being drawn into neighbourhoods where encounters could prove dangerous for both humans and bears.
“Garbage must be kept indoors at all times until the day of collection,” she said, explaining that bears would tear into garbage and then drag bags of waste to areas they felt safer - so perhaps your neighbour’s yard.
Given it is Halloween season, Murray also said that locals should be careful about what they do with their artistic carvings.
“Pumpkins are a bear attractant. Everyone wants to have pumpkins (but) bring them in at night.”
Murray said that there was plenty of evidence of bears chowing down on pumpkins and apples in town, so it was important to reduce the amount of food available to bears.
As the days get cooler and snow begins to accumulate (though none on the valley floor yet), the bears will begin packing it in over coming weeks, and head out of town in search of a good place to hibernate for the winter.
While they’re doing that, locals in the Jaffray area are invited to attend a free presentation on grizzly bear populations around the Jaffray area, and the ways to coexist with them on October 28.
Presented by Dr. Clayton Lamb, the presentation will be at Jaffray Hall on Oct. 28 between 6:30 and 8:30pm. Attendance is free. More information can be found on the WildSafeBC Elk Valley Facebook page.