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Locals reminded to be bear-aware after six bruins put down in Lower Mainland

FILE: A black bear looks up from rifling through the garbage in the front yard of a home on July 6, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo, Becky Bohrer)

Even though winter is close, lots of bears are not in hibernation

Conservation Officer Service says it's important at all points of the year to not leave attractants out

Six bears, including four cubs, were euthanized last week after they were spotted in the Fox Park area of Port Coquitlam

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – You might expect bears on the Lower Mainland would be in hibernation by now, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Murray Smith with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service explains if bears have a food source, they’ll stay out of their dens — and stay active — as long as they can.

“One of the things that pushes bears to the den is the fact that there’s no longer food available, so once the frosts come and freeze up the food sources, they go into the den,” he explains. “But when we have readily available food sources, such as we have in our urban communities that back onto bear habitat, if the bears are able to access that, they’ll stay out of the den. That’s a concern.”

Smith says it’s critical you don’t leave garbage or other attractants out, and adds some bears won’t hibernate at all if there is food available.

“It’s really important that neighbours hold neighbours accountable, and neighbourhoods look within their community and ensure that everyone’s got their garbage put away,” Smith notes. “It’s really the primary source of attractant for bears.”

Smith suggests waiting until the bears are gone to do things like feed birds or fill up a bird-feeder, even going as long as waiting until the new year or March at the latest.

“After that, we just have to make sure that we leave nothing available to bears that’s a human food source.”

Bears typically go into hibernation at different times, depending on where they are in B.C.

Smith says because of climate change, it looks like bears are waiting a little longer to take that winter slumber. In the Lower Mainland area, he says bears can be active until we generally see about five frosty nights in a row.

Just last week, six bears — including four cubs — had to be euthanized after officers got a number of calls over the last several weeks about the animals in the Fox Park area of Port Coquitlam.