September marks one of the deadliest months of the year when it comes to BC black bears.
A release from the Fur-Bearers, a charity protecting wildlife through conservation, advocacy, research, and education, notes that the coming of fall means increased bear activity across the province as the animals get to work eating as much as possible before winter hibernation.
That pursuit of food too often leads black bears to their demise, as it draws them closer to human-inhabited areas—resulting in death by conservation officers. This was the unfortunate end for 500 bears in 2022 alone, with an average of 118 bears being killed in the month of September every year.
It’s a death toll that has only been exacerbated by the worsening climate—another impact that humans are having on bears.
“The climate crisis is causing extreme weather events like the droughts and wildfires that BC has experienced this year,” says Aaron Hofman, director of advocacy and policy at the Fur-Bearers, in the release. “These events may impact the natural food availability of bears, who will seek food sources in human environments. When black bears begin approaching human spaces, they are often killed—and this is entirely preventable.”
Humans are capable of mitigating the situation by reducing attractants like open garbage and ripe fruits, and keeping an eye on their neighbours to do the same.
“Every resident in British Columbia can take simple steps to prevent unnecessary deaths of black bears by appropriately managing their garbage and compost, removing ripe fruits and berries, and doing a seasonal attractant check around their homes,” says Hofman. “We also encourage anyone who witnesses wildlife feeding or attractants not being managed to contact their local government and the BC Conservation Officer Service RAPP Line.”
And as for what humans have to fear from the increase in bear activity this fall? According to WildSafeBC, on average, the province sees less than one fatal black bear attack on a human every five years.