VICTORIA - There have been more than 20,000 conflicts between humans and wildlife in British Columbia so far this year, ranging from bear attacks to cougar sightings, the province's conservation service says.
More than 14,000 of the complaints were about black bears, while another 1,500 involved cougars and 430 were about grizzly bears, said Chris Doyle, deputy chief of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
Nearly 500 bears have been destroyed after run-ins with humans, 469 of black bears and 27 grizzlies, said Mike Badry, wildlife conflict manager with ministry of environment.
Another seven grizzlies were moved, nine were "hazed" to deter them from interacting with humans, and one cub was sent to a rehabilitation facility.
In August, the province said complaints about bears in communities skyrocketed, nearly doubling the figure from the same period last year.
Badry said the numbers have levelled out since then and are now "pretty average" compared with previous years.
"The spring and early summer was a very busy year for bear conflicts, the highest we'd seen in quite some time. But fortunately, the late summer and fall has actually been relatively quiet," he said.
An abundance of natural food sources, such as berries and fish, across much of the province is likely the reason for the drop, he added.
But this time of year is rife for conflict between bears and humans, Badry said, because the animals are trying to fatten up before they begin hibernating for the winter — even if that means rummaging through trash cans.
"These bears are trying to put on weight for denning throughout the winter, so they are highly motivated to find food," Badry said.
"That is where we really put the emphasis on attractant management."
There have been a number of violent encounters between people and bears this year, including a pair of recent attacks on hunters.
Doyle said in one case, a grizzly attacked a hunter near the B.C.-Yukon boundary, injuring the man's head and face.
He said the bear was shot and killed by the man's hunting partner, and officers found the animal was emaciated.
Last weekend, a Cranbrook resident was hunting elk near Fernie when he and his son ran into a female bear and her cub.
Doyle said the hunter sustained minor injuries before the bear moved off. Officers determined the animal had attacked defensively trying to protect her cub and a food source, so officers did not try to capture the bear, he added.