After conducting research and consulting with the Conservation Officer Service, Langford city staff have learned that bear events and sightings have historically been very rare within Langford boundaries.
Bear events and sightings are more frequent within the Highlands, Metchosin or Sooke and when they do occur in Langford, they are in the Bear Mountain Resort area, according to a staff report to the Protective Services Committee.
The report came in light of a request from the Westhills Neighbourhood Residents Group for a $500 grant to create awareness and mitigate bear conflicts.
According to the report, there were 51 bear complaints or reports between March of 2018 and March of 2019. The complaints and reports mostly came from the Bear Mountain and Goldstream Provincial Park areas.
One of the complaints was confirmed at the north end of Florence Lake where a bear attempted to hide under a resident’s mobile home. The bear left when the Conservation Officer Service attended the incident.
From March 2017 to March 2018, there were 65 bear complaints or reports, again mostly from the same areas.
“There have been no requirements for the Conservation Officer Service to conduct removal or euthanasia actions on any bear due to extreme nuisance activity within the past five years in Langford,” the report reads. “The busiest months for incoming bear complaints are between June (when bears come out of hibernation) and again in September/October (when the natural food sources become low).”
There is no firm number of local bears, according to the Conservation Officer Service, but it’s often possible that several complaints could be traced back to a single bear’s presence.
The local government cannot directly regulate bears and similar large animals as they fall within the Wildlife Act. However, local governments can run awareness programs or adopt bylaws to limit attractants for wildlife. Bylaws could mean managing household garbage or fruit-bearing trees.
However, at the time, City staff are not recommending that any bylaw be considered for adoption by Langford City Council.
Council will be providing bear awareness information to Langford residents through the City of Langford website as well as through literature that could be distributed to the public by City Hall, as per staff recommendations.