Even though we have had quite a bit of snow recently, spring is just around the corner in this part of the world. This season of renewal and growth brings with it greater wildlife activity on southern Vancouver Island and that prompts a seasonal reminder about bear safety. Resident black bears typically emerge from hibernation or a relatively inactive winter season between March-April lean and with an appetite. Black bears are normally shy and placid plant eaters, spending up to 8 hours a day eating willow and cottonwood catkins, the early shoots of skunk cabbage, grasses, horsetail, clover and dandelions. As much as we all love to see these creatures in their forested natural adjacent to the campus, at this time of year we remind all campus residents not to inadvertently tempt hungry bears with by not being responsible with our food and garbage.
We remind all campus residents that, if you encounter a bear, remember to stay calm and assess the situation. Do not run and never turn your back on wildlife. Back away slowly and give the bear space. Talk calmly and avoid eye contact. Bears want to avoid humans, so staying at a safe distance and calmly retreating to one of the campus buildings is the best strategy for avoiding unwanted interactions. Remember, once inside, contact any faculty member so that a bear alert can be sent out to all campus residents.