Awake and hungry: Bears sightings ‘far higher’ than normal on North Shore this winter

There has been an unusually high number of bear sightings this winter in North and West Vancouver neighbourhoods.

“All through the winter, even when there was deep snow [last month], there were bears sighted and paw prints,” said Christine Miller with the North Shore Black Bear Network.

“Far more than normal. It has definitely been a different year.”

Miller admits it is weird to see so many of the animals so regularly through December and January.

“It’s not unusual for a bear to occasionally come out of the den for a little snack — it’s not often, but it does happen,” she told CityNews. “But we have had a group of three that have been moving around east of the Seymour River in North Vancouver, where there didn’t seem to be any pause in sightings to indicate that they have hibernated. They just seem to be staying up.”

The wakeful bears have been surviving on high-calorie food sources in residential neighbourhoods, including a number of organic bins at strata developments.

Miller says the organization is planning to work with developments to “build a more secure containment area.”

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But it’s not just organic bins and garbage that bears are seeking out for food.

“There’s also a lot of people on the North Shore who very kindly put out hummingbird feeders and suet and seed feeders for birds, especially when it was snowy, so it was a great opportunity for the bears to get some high-caloric food. That was part of it, but they are definitely still looking for accessible garbage and organics.”

Miller says there was some interesting bear behaviour on the North Shore earlier in the season, as well.

“A couple of bears found open spaces underneath decks, where one was setting up a day bed earlier in the season and, more recently, one was setting up a spot to spend the winter, we think. What we advised the people to do was move furniture around on the deck and walk around a lot, maybe play the radio or have lights on. Just make it not an ideal spot to be in,” she explained.

In both cases, the bear moved on.

Meanwhile, it is not just residential neighbourhoods where people are being asked to be bear aware.

In recent days, “bear in area” warning signs have also been posted along some trails in Mount Seymour Provincial Park.

CityNews has reached out to BC Parks to confirm whether there have been recent sightings along trails just below Mt Seymour Resort.

-With files from Mike Gazzola

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