Are you going hiking in the Garibaldi Provincial Park in the fall? BC Parks is urging people to leave the blueberries alone.
Berry picking is in fact prohibited in the park. Bears look to add weight in preparation for hibernation and they go through a stage of hyperphagia (continuous eating) between the end of summer until mid-autumn.
During this time, bears are much more active and are often seen eating plants, insects, fish and animals. Berries are an essential part of a bear’s diet, and they need this calorie-rich resource to prepare for hibernation. Stay on trails and leave the berries for the bears, BC Parks reminds.
“One of the joys of autumn hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park is the sight and smell of wild blueberries along the trail. But skip the urge to pick and taste, for the sake of the bears,” BC Parks says.
Every single berry and calorie helps them survive through the winter. “I’ll just pick a few” doesn’t work. “If everyone does that, all the blueberry bushes get stripped bare. So just look and smell, but don’t eat.”
Meanwhile, North Shore Hikers say the restriction should be kept in mind not just while hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park, but also in Cypress or Seymour provincial parks.
“There are lots of bears in those areas that need to fatten up on the berries too,” they said.
There are over 120,000 black bears in the province and an estimated 14,000 grizzly bears, which represent a quarter of the entire North American population.
BC Parks is also encouraging people to be bear aware before visiting the parks by checking the park’s web page for bear notices. To avoid unwanted encounters, stay along the path, walk in large groups and make noise to avoid surprising a bear.
For more information on staying safe in bear country, check wildlife guidelines at BC Parks.