Research focuses on human/bear conflicts in Powell River region

UVIC student seeks to answer questions with surveys and cameras

Even amidst a pandemic, summer has begun to roll in to the Sunshine Coast again, bearing promises of sunnier days. The return of spring and summer to Powell River and Lund once again brought the reemergence of wild neighbours, with new cubs and hungry bellies.

Along with black bears foraging comes concerns about conflict with humans, which has many consequences. For humans, these often come in the form of property damage or threats to livestock or pets. For bears, conflict typically results in habituation, injury, or death.

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In the last decade, reported conflict with black bears in Powell River and Lund has been on the rise. These trends may reflect larger trends occurring across the province.

New research, set to begin this summer in qathet Regional District, seeks to answer questions about why and where conflict occurs, and how local opportunities can be found to transform conflict into coexistence. The research is led by Lauren Eckert, a PhD student at the University of Victoria, supervised by Dr. Chris Darimont.

Eckert and her team’s research will begin with online surveys open to all adult community members to understand how people are impacted by black bears, their beliefs and opinions regarding black bears and their management, and their suggestions toward improved human-wildlife relationships in the region.

Eventually, when it is safe to do so in line with health/university protocols, Eckert also aims to establish wildlife camera traps to learn more about the abundance, behaviour and whereabouts of local black bears. She said she will mainly be interested in understanding how bears behave in human-dominated landscapes, and will search for insight from a variety of people who have experience with black bears in the region via an online survey, and those who may be interested in hosting wildlife camera traps on their properties.

The survey, available at surveymonkey.ca/r/peakblackbear, takes 10 to 25 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous. All who participate will be offered an opportunity to win one of two $100 Amazon gift cards.

Anyone interested in learning more about the project, engaging in surveys or having a wildlife camera placed on their property, can contact Eckert at laureneckertresearch@gmail.com.

 
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