Bear killings way down in Revelstoke this season, but the bruins aren’t out of the woods yet

There have been fewer bear incidents in Revelstoke so far this year, however, both Bear Aware and the B.C. Conservation Officer Service say people need to be even more diligent at this time of year when bears begin to make their way closer to town in order to forage for the 20,000 calories a day they need to prepare for winter hibernation.

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A bear was left in a trap overnight at the Aspen Meadows mobile home park on Downie Street in August. According to conservation officer Dan Bartol, the bear caught in the trap was not the targeted bear, and was subsequently released after spending the night in the trap. Photo: Shannon Downey.

Bear deaths in Revelstoke are significantly lower than they were at this time last year.

Maggie Spizzirri, Revelstoke Bear Aware community coordinator, said so far this year only three bears have been euthanized in Revelstoke. That’s a far cry from 2016 when nine bears were killed in a one week period during August, and a total of 24 bears were killed overall.

“We’re doing better this year. A lot more people are talking about what happened last year,” said Spizzirri. “We’re getting a lot more calls about helping to pick fruit off trees or calls saying, ‘Hey, can you talk to my neighbour?’”

Conservation officer Dan Bartol agrees that last year’s high bear death toll has led to people being more diligent about removing bear attractants.

“Last year was particularly bad. From the start of August things really heated up. It didn’t stop for six weeks,” he said.

2016 file photo: This bear was spotted in a tree near Arrow Heights Elementary School. Photo: Crystal Leonard/Revelstoke Bear Aware

Bartol said it is difficult to know exactly why less bear incidents are being reported in both Revelstoke and Golden this year.

“I think people who have traditionally been complacent are taking this issue more seriously,” he said.

Bartol said often it is two groups of people who have been less complacent when it comes to removing bear attractants.

“There’s those who say ‘I’ve lived here for 10 years and have had fruit trees the whole time and I’ve never had a problem.’ The other group are seasonal workers or tourists who are not aware of how many bears are surrounding Revelstoke.”

Both Bartol and Spizzirri said despite the low number of bear incidents so far this year, people still need to be diligent. This is the time of year when many bears start coming down from higher elevations to seek additional food sources to supplement the 20,000 calories a day they need to prepare for hibernation.

“Generally this is the time of year is when bears come into town. We need to make sure when the bears hit the city they just go through and don’t make it their feeding ground,” said Spizzirri.

Revelstoke has been without a conservation officer since 2013, however Bartol said even if a conservation officer was in Revelstoke full time, there would still be the issue of people leaving out bear attractants.

“There’s still going to be a problem. People have to continue to be diligent. This could still all change,” he said.

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Melissa Jameson
Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at melissa@revelstokemountaineer.com