Langford gets proactive with bear-awareness campaign

Langford will post bear-awareness information in the hope of mitigating bear conflicts.

Councillors decided this week to have staff post material on the city’s website and make available literature on bear awareness after receiving a request from residents in Westhills for $500 to conduct such a campaign.

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Rather than provide the money, councillors decided to have staff undertake a bear-awareness information campaign, Mayor Stew Young said.

“There’s not a lot of bears in Langford. Maybe one every couple of years,” said Young. “But I know they’re having problems in other areas.”

Young said there were some concerns in the Westhills and Bear Mountain areas.

“It’s called Bear Mountain, but it doesn’t mean there are bears up there. What we’re doing is just making people aware to not leave food lying around and things like that,” Young said.

A city staff report shows that bear reports are dropping in Langford.

The exact number of bears in Langford is unknown, say city staff, as conservation officers say as many as 20 complaints could be traced back to a single bear.

There were 51 complaints and/or reports of bears — mostly in the Bear Mountain/Goldstream areas — from March 31, 2018, to March 31, 2019 compared with 65 in the same period a year earlier.

One of the complaints last year was at the north end of Florence Lake where a bear tried to hide under a resident’s mobile home. The bear abandoned its attempts when conservation officers arrived, the staff report says.

City staff say there have been no requirements for conservation officers to remove or destroy any bear due to extreme nuisance activity in Langford in the past five years.

Staff say the busiest months for bear complaints are in June, when bears come out of hibernation, and September/October, when the natural food sources diminish.

Langford will make sure brochures on bear mitigation are available at city hall.

“I think being aware in case something does happen and educating people is a good idea. I think that’s what we’re doing is taking the approach of: Let’s educate the public,” Young said.

“We’ll just make sure people are aware. Staff will work on it and get some awareness out.”

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