Bear conflicts on the rise

An extraordinarily high call volume related to black bears has kept Sea to Sky conservation officers extra busy this spring.

In April and May, the Squamish office of B.C.'s wildlife conservation service saw 652 calls – up from 521 in the same period last year.

And things don't appear to be slowing down. As of June 17, it had already received 272 calls for the month.

"I expect there will probably be up to 400 calls this month," said Sgt. Simon Gravel.

The increased conflict has also led to more bears being destroyed. From April 1 to June 17, conservation officers destroyed 16 bears in the Sea to Sky zone, which runs from North Vancouver to Pemberton. That's nearly twice the number killed over the same period last year, when nine were destroyed.

"When you have a high population of black bears, more black bears get into conflict," said Gravel. "Some of them are quickly reaching a threshold that we cannot tolerate ... But in many cases there are things that can proactively manage that conflict."

The high call volume isn't confined to the Sea to Sky corridor. Provincewide, the conservation service received 3,826 calls in April and May related to black bears and another 182 calls for grizzlies.

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