Black bears searching for food while they waiting for berries to ripen is a common occurence this time of year. Saanich police and the BC Conservation Officer Service are reminding residents around Elk Lake to bearproof their homes, after some sightings in the area July 7. (Black Press Media file photo)

BC Conservation, Saanich police warn residents after bear sightings near Elk Lake

Residents reminded to bring garbage, food in, keep their distance from bears

Saanich police are reminding residents in the area of Pat Bay Highway and Sayward Road to ensure their homes are bear-proof after multiple sightings Wednesday evening.

Police reported that a black bear was seen eating berries around 6 p.m. July 7 near the Elk Lake Baptist Church. Saanich resident Jordan Cheung also reported a bear at Elk Lake the same evening.

“We know residents in that area are used to seeing bears around and are also great at bear-proofing their homes,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades. He noted residents should call police when there are sightings, so police can better track animals’ whereabouts.

BC conservation officer Rick Dekelver said people living in urban residential areas play a huge role in mitigating interactions with bears.

“Secure your attractants, which we classify as anything a bear would eat that’s not natural to them,” he said, emphasizing such actions as bringing in garbage cans and bird feeders at night.

To protect one’s safety in an encounter with a bear or other wildlife, Dekelver said it’s important to respect the animal’s personal space and back away slowly in the direction you came from.

Complacency becomes normal when bears have too many interactions with humans, and they may even become aggressive if they’re too comfortable in residential surroundings.

To report any sightings or if you have any questions, call the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

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