Deep Cove is well-known for having a strong sense of community among human residents.
The recent loss of another member of the wider community, black bear Plum, has ignited a demand for change by residents on how black bears are valued and managed on the North Shore.
Plum was one of five bears killed by the Conservation Officers on the North Shore this year so far. When the North Shore Black Bear Society named Plum, it was to help with identification of individual bears that were travelling through our communities.
It seems that giving our bear’s an identity has been the catalyst for change that we have been promoting through our education programs for years.
Plum showed us every day that she was responsibly coexisting with us. Residents let us know that she passed through their property, that she was calm, easy-going, and was easy to move on when asked. Bears do not spend time close to our homes in order to hurt us.
Young bears seek safety from dominant males by living closer to people and by being active during the day. Many times, when we receive reports of bear activity, they are bears from the vulnerable population: young bears and females with cubs.
Those bears are finding solace in quiet neighbourhood green spaces where they are not being harassed by dogs, bikers and hikers on nearby trails. We spend so much time enjoying their home, yet many have no tolerance for a bear being close to ours.
With Plum gone from Deep Cove, another young bear will soon fill the void.
In order to have a positive impact on our beautiful, local bears, there are a few small things we can and must do. Garbage and organics are the biggest attractants for bears. Please store your carts in a garage or shed, as the locks are not bear proof. For residents with a carport, keep your carts locked at all times, when on your property, and bungee them together to prevent bears from tipping them over.
Managing fruit-bearing trees by picking all the fruit before it ripens, installing portable electric fencing around the base of the tree, or removing the tree. If a bear visits your property, and you are in a safe place (a deck or open window) use a loud, firm tone and tell the bear to go away, clap your hands, and even turn on your car alarm.
This gives the bear a negative experience on your property and will further deter them from returning, assuming there are no food sources inviting them to stay.
We will always see bears travelling through our neighbourhoods on the North Shore. If we take the time teach bears the boundaries and ensure there is nothing available to them, they can teach us what it means to have compassion, community, and to coexist.
Luci Cadman is an education coordinator for the North Shore Black Bear Society.