Port Hardy called in record number of black bear sightings last year

Conservation Officers attended 74 of the 314 calls made

Port Hardy residents made a record number of calls to the bear reporting hotline last year.

There were total of 314 calls regarding bears, compared with 54 last year. Conservation Officers attended 74 calls between March 2019 and 2020, and six bears were destroyed by officers.

The higher call volume doesn’t necessarily mean there were more bears, but last year’s dry winter could have increased bear activity in town, according to Port Hardy’s Bear Smart coordinator Heather Nelson-Smith, who’s also the town’s Director of Corporate Services.

“Grass wasn’t growing as abundantly in the forests; there was less water in creek beds. So we had a very early bear season that spring.”

Last year, officers responded to 23 per cent of calls, down from 27 per cent in the 2018/19 reporting year.

Nelson-Smith is hopeful this means people are calling in before there is a human-bear conflict. “That’s what we need, to get on things early to keep bears and humans safe.”

Port Hardy’s Bear Smart volunteer committee has only been active for two years, so they need more years of data to confirm the trend.

The Conservation Officer Service (COS) reported two bears destroyed by “other” – meaning industry or the public.

See a bear in town? Call the RAPP line: 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).

MORE BEARS: VIDEO: A young Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

RELATED: Food-conditioned black bear destroyed near Port Hardy

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