Bear sightings on the rise in Revelstoke

Bears are coming into Revelstoke earlier this year. Bear activity leads to restrictions in national parks.

  • Aug. 16, 2016 6:00 p.m.

By Maggie Spizzirri, Revelstoke Bear Aware

The bears of Revelstoke are coming into town earlier this year. Revelstoke Bear Aware has noticed that there has been a substantial increase in calls coming into both the RAPP line and to the Revelstoke Bear Aware Society in comparison to the last few years, though exact numbers have not been provided by the Conservation Officer Service. The higher than usual bear activity is being reported across the city, from Columbia Park to Arrow Heights and everywhere in between.

The reason for this early migration into town is a range of factors. The weather was unusually warm this spring which lead to a great initial berry crop. However, the tempting smells of garbage in this warmer weather over the last week or two and fruit trees ripening early provide an easily accessible feast to bears.

Black bears require 20,000 calories per day in preparation for hibernation in the winter months. That would be the same as eating 35 loaded hamburgers a day. Bird and chicken seed is also very high in calories, with one kilogram providing 8,000 calories of energy.

Sow’s also need to ensure they are eating enough to support any cubs that may be born over the winter. If a sow does not consume enough, then the cub is not born as they both would not be able to survive the winter.

Reports of attractants such as garbage and fruit trees are top of the list. In order to keep our bears wild and our community safe, Bear Aware is asking the community to pull together to keep garbage locked in a secure location such as a garage or indoors and fruit trees picked. This reduces the possibility of bears becoming food conditioned and less afraid of humans which can become a risk. If anyone does need help gleaning their fruit trees Bear Aware has partnered with the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative to run their gleaning program again this year, which provides a free gleaning service through the use of volunteers and donating any left over fruit to the Community Connections Food Bank.

Let’s all work together to keep the bears wild and our community safe!

Restrictions in place in national parks

By Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review

Photo: A grizzly bear in Glacier National Park. ~ Photo contributed by Parks Canada

Grizzly Bear activity in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks has resulted in significant trail restrictions in both areas.

In Glacier National Park, access to is limited to groups of four or more on the Asulkan Valley, Avalanche Crest, Mount Sir Donald, Great Glacier, Glacier Crest, Balu Pass and Perley Rock trails. Dogs aren’t allowed on any of those trails.

Only the Abbott Ridge, Hermit, Bostock and Beaver Valley trails don’t have restrictions, though there are bear warnings in place.

The restriction means that hikers must travel in groups of four and stay within three metres of each other, with fines for people breaking the rule.

In an e-mail to mountaineers, Parks Canada said the restrictions in the Asulkan and Illecillewaet area were the result of a female grizzly bear with two juveniles.

“The summer of 2016 has seen a tremendous berry crop. When bears are focused on feeding on berries they can easily be surprised by hikers at close range,” said Parks Canada. “On at least two occasions, this family group of bears was surprised by hikers at close range resulting in defensive displays by the female. The group of four restriction reduces the likelihood of surprising the bears and thereby protects both the park visitors and the bears.”

On Mount Revelstoke, a partial closure is in place on the Heather Lake and Balsam Lake trails and there is a warning in place for the trail to Eva, Miller and Jade Lakes. The Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk is closed due to bear activity.

Last weekend, the Steamer Hill Climb had to be shortened due to bear activity in the summit area of Mount Revelstoke National Park. The Trailstoke race is scheduled for the park on Aug. 28. A Parks Canada spokesperson said they would continue to monitor bear activity and would work with race organizers 5Peaks to put measures in place to keep runners and wildlife safe.