The province is reminding the public that it’s not only human facing issues related to wildfires.
Wildlife is also being impacted by the fires, said Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma during an update on current wildfire and drought conditions Wednesday (Aug. 2).
“Warmer environments due to climate change have prolonged the lifespan of moths that feed on hemlocks and Douglas firs, allowing them to inflict a more severe impact on local trees,” she explained. “I’m hearing stories of bears wandering into communities, looking for food because of the drought impact on berry crops.”
On Wednesday, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said a woman had minor injuries after a bear attacked her in Smithers. Conservation officer Rob Leblanc said the bear wasn’t doing anything it shouldn’t, “just out eating berries and salmon.”
Meanwhile, a French Beach Provincial Park on Vancouver Island reopened Monday following a closure due to a bear causing damage to tents. It also managed to get into a vehicle.
Ma said the impacts are real and substantial, with the province putting in restrictions to protect waterways and ecosystems.
B.C. announced Monday that angling in some Kootenay waterways would be reduced to protect fish populations as water temperatures increase in the afternoons and evenings. Recreational fishing is closed from 2 p.m. to midnight daily until Sept. 10.
She added waters with lower flows, “as is the case with drought,” generally heat up quicker that higher flows, which makes it harder for released fish to recover.
The province is watching the drought situation very closely, she said.
“Different streams, different communities will see different impacts to ecological systems.”
Asked if the province plans to take further action, Connie Chapman, acting director of the water management branch with the Forests Ministry, said B.C. is looking at all options and tools under legislation.
She said B.C. could take action with using temperature protection orders under the Water Sustainability Act to protect ecological systems and fishery populations.