Squamish is located in prime bear habitat. Bears are active from March through to December, but some may not hibernate if they find non-natural food sources. While conflict encounters are uncommon, it is important to be alert and aware. Stay safe and keep bears wild by following these simple guidelines:
Bears are attracted into our neighbourhoods because of available non-natural food like garbage and fruit. We can reduce the potential for human-bear conflict by simply managing attractants. Our neighbourhoods must be porous to wildlife activity. This means ensuring that wildlife can move through our community without being attracted to non-natural food. We do not want to invite wildlife to stop and stay.
Bears are opportunistic omnivores and will return time and time again to a readily available food source. However, if the attractant is secured or removed, the bear will move on.
Council approved the keeping of backyard hens and bees. Keeping bees and chickens may increase the chances of attracting wildlife. Please take a moment to review the requirements for backyard hens and bees.
For more information:
Note: For any wildlife attractant bylaw infractions, please contact the Bylaw Office at 604.815.5067. For wildlife sightings and encounters, please call the Conservation Officer Service 24 hour hotline at: 1-877-952-7277.
The key to staying safe on the trails is to avoid surprise encounters:
Bears emerge from hibernation typically between March-April and they are lean and hungry. They can spend up to 8 hours a day eating willow and cottonwood catkins, the early shoots of skunk cabbage, grasses, horsetail, clover and dandelions. They don’t gain much weight on this diet and can continue to lose weight well into June and even into July. Bears will stay low in the valley bottoms during this time and will eventually follow the snowmelt up the mountainside in search of spring green-up and summer berries. Let’s keep them moving up the mountains by not attracting them into our neighbourhoods with non-natural food.
The search for food continues and with the summer comes ants and grubs which provide a much needed source of protein. Bears will rip apart rotten stumps and logs and roll over boulders in pursuit of insects and larvae. Breeding season begins late May and ends in early July; these normally solitary animals can be seen together during these few months.
Berries, berries, and more berries! In preparation for hibernation a bear’s appetite will increase during the fall where they will feed for up to 20 hours a day in order to pack on enough pounds to survive the winter. This increased feeding phase is called 'hyperpahgia". They can consume up to 20,000 calories per day, which is equal to a human eating 50 hamburgers per day. If you want to feed birds, keep in mind that birdseed is a non-natural food for bears and a typical seven-pound feeder contains a whopping 12,000 calories making this food just too tempting to pass up. Salmon is an important fall food and even though fruit is a natural food source, domestic fruit from our neighbourhood trees is not. Pick your fruit, collect all windfall and be Bear Smart.
Bears typically enter dens for hibernation in mid-November and will den in the cavity of dead trees or in small caves/rock cavities. They hibernate because their natural food sources are no longer available, not because it’s cold. If there is food available, bears will not hibernate. It’s essential to keep all non-natural food secure, even over the winter. So keep those garbage totes locked twelve months of the year.
Squamish CAN has created the Squamish Food Swap and Share online community to encourage residents to exchange and offer their garden abundance, supplies and get help with harvesting fruit.
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