Keep Bears Wild 

Posted 3/17/2021 Ref # 6344

Bearly Awake but Already Active on North Shore

Bearly Awake but Already Active on North Shore

We are aware of 10 bears that are active across the District of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver, writes Luci Cadman.
With the exception of Central and Lower Lonsdale (to date), you can encounter a black bear anywhere on the North Shore, at any time of day or year. Photos: Dylan Monteith

Black bears live, play, rest and raise their young in the North Shore forests, but it is not uncommon to see them in urban areas. With more bears emerging from their dens over the past few days, expect to see them on trails, crossing roads, in neighbourhoods and even at the beach.

With the exception of Central and Lower Lonsdale (to date), you can encounter a black bear anywhere on the North Shore, at any time of day or year.

North Shore residents reported bear activity to us over the late winter months, with the accessibility of unnatural foods contributing to some bears denning for shorter periods.

We are aware of 10 bears that are active across the District of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver.

Often, the bears that we see occupying areas closer to humans are the vulnerable population (females and their cubs, young, old or injured bears). These bears are forced to be more active during the day and often live on the periphery of urban areas to seek safety from dominant male bears.

Bears are not in the neighbourhood to hurt people or pets, but they are not domesticated. Do not approach them, especially for photographs. If you encounter a bear: be present, stay calm, talk to them in a calm voice (any language to identify yourself as human) and slowly back way. Do not expect bears to run away from you or your dog. Bears aim to avoid close encounters but they are not fearful of people – and we don’t want them to be.

When we share the landscape with bears, it is important that we set boundaries by not inviting them to our homes with food and encouraging them to move on – from a safe place – if they visit.  As soon as you see a bear on your property, go to a window or deck, make eye contact and use a firm, persistent tone to encourage the bear to leave.

They understand by our tone where they are not welcome (providing you aren’t tempting them with food). Bears have incredible memories. If you had a bear in your unsecured garbage or unpicked fruit tree last year, expect another furry visitor again if you haven’t made efforts to secure attractants.

Please act on advice to store garbage and food scraps inside a garage or secure and locked enclosure. Remove bird feeders, feed pets inside, clean BBQ grills and grease traps after each use, install and maintain electric fencing around beehives and chicken coops and keep vehicles secure and free from garbage and food.

If we all take steps to secure these items from bears, we reduce their reason for being on properties and encourage them to find natural foods in the green spaces nearby.

Sadly, bears that find food from humans are often killed, with 5 bears losing their lives last year. Every new season offers an opportunity to show the wider members of our community that their lives have value by being respectful and responsible residents of bear country.

Luci Cadman is the executive director of the North Shore Black Bear Society

Posted 3/9/2021 Ref # 6343

Bear Society calls for 'responsible coexistence' as bears wake up

North Shore Black Bear Society calls for 'responsible coexistence' as bears wake up

As bears are waking up and making their way out of their winter dens, the head of the North Shore Black Bear society is hoping to see more “responsible coexistence” in 2021.
Black Bear eating blueberries Mike
Black bears are coming out of their North Shore dens. Local advocates are calling on us to give them their space in 2021.

As bears are waking up and making their way out of their winter dens, the head of the North Shore Black Bear society is hoping to see more “responsible coexistence” in 2021.

Executive director Luci Cadman said the pandemic put more people on the trails last year, revealing some troubling habits.

“Bears are peaceful, calm, polite, predictable animals. Humans, not so much. We’re very unpredictable around wildlife,” she said.

When you’re on the trail, make a point of being both slower and louder, giving bears ample opportunity to lumber away, Cadman said, stressing that when you do an encounter a bear, give them their space. Certainly, do not pursue a bear for the sake of getting a photo, she added.

“We saw a lot of that last year -  people cornering bears, tracking bears for photo opportunities, lots of people chasing those chasing bears,” she said.

That only puts the bears at more risk of being pushed closer to residential areas, roads or into the territory of a more aggressive bear, Cadman said.

Dogs should be kept leashed, Cadman said, as they have a tendency to instigate and exacerbate conflicts.

When a bear shows up in a residential yard, it’s important to get to a safe place and then calmly and firmly let them know they have to move on before they’ve been rewarded with any food, Cadman said.

“We're asking people to set boundaries,” she said. “Let them know it's not safe for them to be on your property they’re not welcome. They understand from our tone when they're not welcome. And it's really important that we're persistent and consistent with that message - there's no food and don't get comfortable here,” she said.

As of December last year, the District of North Vancouver began taking a no-tolerance approach to people who bring their garbage carts out before 5:30 a.m. Since then, they’ve issued 205 $100-tickets for first-time offenders and seven $500-tickets for subsequent offences.

Cadman said she has certainly seen a decrease in the number of emails she receives reporting attractant violators in need of more targeted education.

There were five North Shore bears shot by conservation officers after becoming habituated to human food in 2020. Another one was euthanized after becoming injured while trying to feed a cub from a soccer net. And three were killed on the roads after being struck by drivers.

Cadman said the Black Bear Society will step in and provide education wherever it is needed.

Posted 3/6/2021 Ref # 6342

North Van bear advocate awarded for decades of work

North Van bear advocate awarded for decades of work

Don't fear bears, North Van advocate says
Ellie Lamb web
Ellie Lamb poses with two of her favourite bears in the Bella Coola Valley, Ms. E and her cub Bandita.

It started with a letter to the editor. Seven-year-old Ellie Lamb was shocked to see on the front page of the Calgary Herald a picture of a hunter posing with his rifle and the pelt of wolf he’d just shot.

Lamb’s mother helped her get her feelings down on paper. Two days later the Herald ran two full pages of letters from folks outraged over the killing of the wolf.

Now, after five decades of advocacy on behalf of animals, Lamb is being honoured with the Outstanding Advocacy Clements Award from the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, or Fur-Bearers.

“Animals all need a human voice to really make a difference, I think, and that seemed to be the direction that I was called in,” Lamb said.

Lamb, who is a professional wildlife artist and bear guide, has put in years of dedication with the Bear Working Group in the Bella Coola Valley, North Shore Black Bear Society, the Get Bear Smart Society, the North Shore Municipal Black Bear Working Group, Whistler Bear Advisory Committee, and the Grizzly Bear Foundation. She’s also a North Shore Rescue volunteer who introduced the first-ever search dog to the team.

Now one of the West Coast’s experts on bear behaviour, Lamb has been sought to help educate others on some badly misunderstood creatures.

Years of being up close and personal with ursines has taught her they are social, curious, naturally trusting of people and certainly not to be feared. In all her years with them, Lamb said she’s never had a conflict with one that went beyond a stern conversation.

“They would prefer to have a positive outcome because it suits them,” she said.

That understanding should inform the way we interact with them when they wander into residential neighbourhoods, Lamb said.

Often, the ones that show up are vulnerable members of the bear population - because they are caring for cubs, or because they’re old or sick, Lamb said, and it’s part of their survival strategy to stay out of the territory of aggressive males.

“They're actually trusting our community and our humans for safety,” she said. “They're only here for a short time, and then they leave.”

Lamb has personally had the honour of mother grizzlies leaving their cubs in her care while they go to forage.

But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be boundaries, Lamb said, for the bears’ good and ours. Keeping properties free of attractants like garbage and fruit is a must, Lamb said, but in her lengthy experience, all you need to make a bear move on is tell it so in a firm voice from a safe distance.

If that doesn’t work, showing human dominance in the form of throwing rocks or sticks or even using bear spray, if you’re properly trained how to do it, would also work.

“These are soft skills that are used on a soft animal because bears are soft, whereas the hard skills like rubber bullets or dogs or even killing bears, as we see happen on our North Shore, it's overdoing a situation,” she said. “It's helpful to understand the animal, then we can apply tools and communication to manage them ourselves, without going to places that we've been going on the North Shore. These bears don’t have to die. They just need to be taught.”

That perspective has made Lamb nationally recognized by animal lovers, and it’s why she was a “slam dunk” to be selected for the award, said Lesley Fox, executive director of the Fur-Bearers.

 “She has really elevated the conversation, certainly in the public, but also in the media of how animals are portrayed, particularly predators, and particularly bears,” she said. “She is blending science and the heart, I think. She really puts those two things together.”

Receiving the award was a special moment, Lamb said. It’s named for George and BuntyClements, the past president and director of the Fur-Bearers, who became mentors to her around the time she wrote her letter to the Herald.

“It's kind of phenomenal to me. I'm so excited to receive that award, because it came full circle,” she said, adding the advocacy world is full of people who have worked just as hard. “I'm honoured.”

Posted 1/18/2021 Ref # 6341

Multiple bears are active on North Shore this winter

Multiple bears are active on North Shore this winter

Whilst reports to the NSBBS have decreased significantly over recent weeks, multiple bears remain active, writes Luci Cadman.

Be prepared to see a bear this winter in North Shore

Access to unnatural foods from humans is encouraging year-round activity for some of our North Shore bears. Expect to see bears travelling through the community and on the trails.

Whilst reports to the North Shore Black Bear Society have decreased significantly over recent weeks, multiple bears remain active.

Failure to secure bird seed, organics and garbage from wildlife is extending bear season. Some bears (typically males) will den for shorter periods or not at all if we provide them with nourishment.

If you suspect you have found a bear den, please inform the North Shore Black Bear Society. Photo: Tony Joyce

This is one of the reasons why bears are killed during the winter when, in theory, they should be dormant. Securing or removing food sources around our homes year-round is vital if we want to reduce human-caused bear deaths and decrease wildlife activity in our neighbourhoods.

As winter arrives and natural food sources become scarce, bears conserve their energy and den, commonly at the hollow base of a tree.

Most bears enter a state of dormancy around mid-late December, but not a deep sleep, which serves them well should they need to protect themselves. A human, dog or active bear could enter the den at any time. Off-leash dogs are involved in the majority of negative encounters between humans and wildlife.

The fall period of excessive eating is to gain fat reserves that are integral to their survival and reproduction over the winter, as they don’t eat or drink when denning.

Mating season takes place in the late spring and summer, but fertilized eggs only develop in the late fall if females are healthy enough to reproduce. Bear cubs are born in late January inside the den and rely on their mother’s rich milk to survive.

We can expect to see adults emerging from their dens in March. Females with new cubs are the last to emerge. We typically get our first glimpse of the cat-sized cubs in late April.

The black bears we usually see around our communities are the vulnerable population: females with cubs, juveniles and older bears. Vulnerable bears may choose to den in green spaces close to our community, on our properties (very rare) or secure a den mere metres from popular trails in an effort to remain safe from dominant males.

If you suspect you have found a bear den, let us know and of course, do not intentionally disturb any occupants!

We advise making noise with your voice on the trails, carrying bear spray and keeping dogs on-leash year-round.

Black bears are calm and generally predictable by nature, but we need to respond appropriately to an encounter. If you meet a bear: Stay calm, speak in a calm voice (any language), slowly back away and leave the area.

Black bears can live for 20 years or more. Sadly, bears that live close to humans rarely live beyond 10 years. At least three adult female bears who could have given birth this winter were killed on the North Shore last year when they found access to garbage, fruit trees and bird feeders around our homes.

The North Shore Black Bear Society supports the coexistence of people and bears year-round.

For information visit

The new director of North Shore Black Bear Society, Luci Cadman is certified in bear safety and awareness and has been with the society for five years. 

Posted 12/15/2020 Ref # 6340

Christine Miller retires

The Executive Director of North Shore Black Bear Society, Christine Miller, will be retiring this month after 15 years of dedicated service to the community.

Miller is handing over reins to another committed and well-informed education coordinator, Luci Cadman.

“It was a perfect time to move on and allow Luci and the Board of Directors to determine the Society’s future directions,” Miller said.

Trying to reduce preventable bear deaths on the North Shore has been a primary focus of Miller’s life for the last 15 years.

Christine Miller has worked tirelessly on bear awareness for the last 15 years in North Shore.

In 2005, Norma Rodgers, Miller’s friend from Lions Bay, told she was spending a lot of time supporting the bear group in Lions Bay.

Curious, Miller attended a volunteer meeting to learn about the conservation efforts of residents here.

When she recognized that bear deaths could be reduced with education about wildlife attractants in residential areas, she was hooked and started learning gradually about the provincial Bear Aware program, now called WildSafeBC.

Over the years, Millers developed or expanded a variety of educational outreach activities.

Miller was given the Award of Honour from the District of North Vancouver “for outstanding commitment to leadership and education” in 2017.

She took educational displays to community events, made presentations to audiences of all ages, made home visits, installed bear-in-area signs, sent information packages to new homeowners and even conducted nighttime patrols for waste.

She says the society has made a significant difference to the understanding, respect and tolerance of black bears.

In 1999 when the North Shore Black Bear Network was formed, 39 bears were killed on the North Shore.

In 2020, five bears were killed by the Conservation Officers Service and at least two bears died as a result of being hit by a vehicle.

There are many reasons for this decline in preventable deaths including the multi-faceted education outreach of the Society, she says.

In June 2019, Miller was awarded for her commitment to environmental awareness” by City of North Vancouver.

“I think one of my most important accomplishments was establishing and maintaining strong working partnerships with staff in the three North Shore municipalities,” Miller says.

“The consistent messaging and support that resulted were significant contributors to increased co-existence of people and wildlife on Vancouver’s North Shore.”

Miller was given the Award of Honour from the District of North Vancouver “for outstanding commitment to leadership and education at the North Shore Black Bear Society and in the community” presented by Mayor Richard Walton in November 2017.

In June 2019, on behalf of the Society, both Luci Cadman and Miller also received a Living City Award for Sustainability in recognition for “commitment to environmental awareness” by CNV Mayor Linda Buchanan.

Recently, the Society was also selected for the Fur-Bearers Clements Award for the category of Outstanding Organization, to be presented virtually in February 2021.

The Clements Awards was created in honour of long-time directors and leaders of The Fur-Bearers, George and Bunty Clements, to recognize outstanding work of wildlife advocates.

Miller says she plans to celebrate the time and energy that retirement will provide to develop some personal interests and pursue other options for serving the local community and province.

“I will continue to contribute to the local community associations and Block Watch, for a start. On a broader scale, I will keep on encouraging changes to environmental policies and procedures within our province,” she says.