Hibernation cut short for some B.C. bears due to warm weather

Black bear in British Columbia

Although it’s still February, the temperatures in British Columbia scream April. And the province’s bears are feeling the springtime weather, too.

Due to an unseasonably warm winter, some bears in the lower mainland have awakened months early from hibernation. According to Meg Toom with WildSafeBC, there has been reported bear activity around Squamish, the North Shore, and Coquitlam in the last four weeks.

“Although typically people think it’s winter time [and the] bears should be hibernating, we do have bears that are out and about, looking for food sources right now,” said Toom in an interview with News1130.

So far in February, the overall temperature in B.C. has been 8.9 degrees, compared to an average of 4.9 degrees. The freezing level, meanwhile, more closely resembles that of May and June.

These balmy temperatures are keeping plants alive, and therefore food sources ample, too.

“Bears will hibernate because their natural food sources are gone. There are no more berries, the grass is covered by snow,” said Toom.  “But if there are food sources—such as garbage, pet food left outside, or bird feeders—that’s going to provide them with calories over the winter. So, why hibernate?”

Conservation officers advise residents ensure their garbage cans are safe and secure. It’s ideal to keep all cans locked in a shed, garage or bear-resistant container. Residents can be fined up to $230 for not keeping their garage protected.

Taking these easy measures will keep you safe, and the bears.  Conservation officers are forced to euthanize bears that become dependent on human food.