Conservation Officers warn of Grizzly bear sighting around Sitkum Creek and highway 3A near Nelson BC

The sightings started around Saturday and on Sunday the bear found a road kill deer just east of the Sitkum Creek bridge which is likely the reason for the volume of sightings recently.

The remaining portion of the deer carcass was removed Thursday morning but the bear was sighted walking along Granger Road Friday morning around 7 am. Says, West Kootenay Zone, Conservation Officer Jason Hawkes in an e-mail.

Also there has been fresh bear scat in the area with apple seeds which indicates the bear scored fruit nearby. Given that the bear has not shown aggression, has not caused damage to property and seems to move off when encountered by people the residence in the area have a couple options both of which requires a community effort.

Option A

Do nothing and be ok with a grizzly bear living in our community knowing that it’s a great spot for food such as juicy apples, compost and maybe a chicken or two. The bear will likely become habituated to people and food conditioned to whatever human food sources are available. This usually ends up with a negative but preventable human / bear conflict leading to the bear being destroyed at some point in time due to public safety concerns. Notwithstanding the fact that attracting bears is illegal and a minimum fine of $230. Although this bear has been tolerant of dogs and people in the encounters, the Conservation Officer has noted this may not always be the case if this community teaches it bad habits.

Option B

Remove any attractants by picking and securing fruit ASAP, placing an electric fence around chicken coops, hold off on composting for a the next 4-6 weeks, and ensuring any waste such as garbage and recycling is secured so the bear realizes that there is no food for it here. Bears have an amazing memory when it comes to food availability and will return to specific times in a season if food is found. No food sources will encourage the bear to leave and move to  other locations where food may be readily available. This has worked extremely well in communities such as Meadow Creek, Argenta flats, and Cooper Creek where grizzly bear visits are more common.  Some of you have already started removing attractants on your property but everyone has to do their part for this to work.

Conservation Officer Jason Hawkes discussed the recent bear activity with the Provincial Wildlife Branch and have a plan for the COS / Wildlife Biologists to capture the bear, GPS collar it for future monitoring, and move it up the mountain.  They have set two traps in the area Friday morning but the chances of capture are decreased significantly if other food sources are available. From the information the Conservation Service have to date the bear is a good candidate and can hopefully change this to a positive outcome. An outcome that all of you made possible.

The Conservation Service also work with a group that specializes in mitigating bear attractants and have been advised that this area is eligible for a electric fence cost share if interested.