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More bears entering human environments this spring, B.C. conservation officers warn

Click to play video: 'Black bear climbs to second floor balcony for a snack' Black bear climbs to second floor balcony for a snack
WATCH: (Aired May 14) A bear climbs up to the balcony on the second floor of a West Vancouver home to eat suet in bird feeder – May 14, 2019

The BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to brush up on bear safety after had a spike in conflict calls this spring.

Deputy chief Chris Doyle says the service received 3,826 calls about black bears and 182 about grizzlies in April and May.

That’s more than 60 per cent higher than the average number of bear calls for the same period over the past eight years.

WATCH: (Aired June 6) Salmon Arm bear sighting doorbell cam

Click to play video: 'Salmon Arm bear sighting doorbell cam' Salmon Arm bear sighting doorbell cam
Salmon Arm bear sighting doorbell cam – Jun 6, 2019

Doyle says “conflicts” can range from bear attacks to sightings in developed areas, with everything from charging, habitual garbage eating and livestock attacks in between.

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He reminds residents that it’s illegal to feed bears or negligently store attractants like garbage and he points to the Wildsafe BC website as a resource for more information.

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The cause of the spike is unknown, but Doyle says climate and weather conditions may have meant less food for bears coming out of hibernation.

“It’s possible the cold, dry spring has led to a poor availability of new growth for bears to eat as they emerge from the den,” Doyle says.

Bears are coming in contact with humans all over the province but Doyle says “hot spots” include the Sea-to-Sky region and Metro Vancouver.

READ MORE: B.C. community pushes for no-kill mandate after 3 bears destroyed in as many weeks

He says they have two active investigations on the Sunshine Coast, where residents are suspected of feeding the bears.

“Although the bears may not look healthy, providing food to them is definitely not helpful,” Doyle says.

“It could put yourself, as well as your neighbours and the bear, at risk.”

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READ MORE: B.C. wildlife dine and dash: Bear surprises homeowner, scarfs down food, then leaves

Doyle also warned of a rise in deer conflict in the Okanagan.

He says it’s fawning season, so people need to avoid coming between a doe and her fawn and keep dogs on leashes.

If you see a fawn alone, it’s likely not abandoned so don’t attempt a “rescue,” he says.

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