B.C. bear encounters soar with good weather, poor berries (with VIDEO)

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  • Sep. 15, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Grizzly bear near Squamish.

A surge in conflicts between people and bears since September has B.C. conservation officers urging more caution.

Nearly 2,500 human-wildlife conflicts were reported since Sept. 1, with high levels of bear encounters in the Kootenays, South Coast, Okanagan and Cariboo.

Part of it is the season as bears try to fatten up before winter, said Chris Doyle, deputy chief of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

“This time of year we can expect the bears to be trying to consume more calories before they go to den and we tend to expect higher levels of conflict in the fall,” he said.

Good September weather has meant lots of people enjoying the outdoors where they may run into bears, but Doyle said weather may have also hurt the food supply.

“Some areas are experiencing less than ideal berry crop conditions,” he said. “In the alpine it appears some of those berries didn’t develop due to conditions earlier.”

ATV riders near Squamish recently found their trail home blocked by an aggressive grizzly bear that wouldn’t let them pass. Conservation officers managed to scare the grizzly bear away. (See video above.)

“The grizzly bear had been feeding on a black bear so the grizzly bear was protecting its kill site from the ATV operators and that was the reason it was showing some level of aggression,” Doyle said.

Cranbrook conservation officers also captured a female grizzly bear that had been feeding near the east Kootenay community of Skookumchuck.

Officers are also watching out for two “island-hopping” grizzlies last spotted in the Pearse Islands off Telegraph Cove on northern Vancouver Island.

In Revelstoke, officers issued 16 dangerous wildlife protection orders to residents or businesses that had not taken enough care to avoid attracting bears.

Poaching bears for the illegal trade in their parts remains a concern.

Doyle said simultaneous arrests and raids were recently conducted in Surrey and Cache Creek targeted suspected bear parts traffickers. Charges have not yet been laid.

Doyle noted possession and trafficking of bear parts is illegal even if the bear was legally harvested.

He said charges may also result from an investigation into a bow hunter alleged to have killed a female grizzly bear outside Powell River, where it was feeding.

Wildlife rescue facilities have also had to take on more young bears.

Three bear cubs were recently rescued near New Denver after a sow was struck and killed by a vehicle, while another was rescued in Kitwanga after its mother was critically injured.

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