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Bears ambling into action in Tofino - Ucluelet

WildSafeBC Pacific Rim hopes for repeat of last year’s peaceful success between bears and humans
West Coast residents, visitors and businesses are urged to secure their attractants to help keep local black bears wild and communities safe. (WildSafeBC photo)

Bears are active on the West Coast and local officials are urging residents and visitors to secure their attractants and keep wildlife wild.

Parks Canada issued a Bear in Area warning last week after receiving multiple reports of close interactions with a medium-sized adult black bear on Shorepine Bog Trail.

“The bear has been feeding on natural food sources, frequently within a meter (sic) or two of the boardwalk itself. The bear has exhibited significant levels of habituation to people, being watched and filmed at close range for up to 45 minutes at a time,” the May 22 warning reads.

In order to prevent human-bear interactions, the Park Reserve is urging visitors to hike in groups, keep children close and dogs leashed, store all food and garbage securely as well as to stay alert and keep eyes peeled for bear tracks and droppings.

Anyone who encounters a bear should remember to never run away from the animal, but rather stay calm and back away slowly without making eye contact.

The Park Reserve is asking anyone who spots a bear to report their sighting to 250-726-3604.

Surrounding West Coast communities are also seeing bear activity wake up as two bears have been reported around human-use areas in Tofino and one on the other side of the Peninsula in Hitacu, according to WildSafeBC Pacific Rim coordinator Bob Hansen.

Hansen told the Westerly News no bear activity had been reported in Ucluelet as of Saturday, May 25, but he expects to see those sightings begin in short order.

Hansen noted 2023 was a banner year for West Coast black bears with none being killed due to unnatural food conditioning for the first time in recent memory.

“We really seemed to turn a corner last year in that we had quite a drop in conflicts overall,” Hansen said. “It was quite remarkable and it’s the first year I can remember where we didn’t have any food conditioned bears put down…That was very encouraging to see.”

He credited the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District’s launch of a new waste disposal cart system as a key reason for the turnaround, but he’s urging all residents to keep the positive trend humming by securing their carts properly.

“There were a number of bears last year that learned individually how to break into the new carts and they discovered after significant effort that the clips could be broken and then they could access the carts,” he said, adding the two bears causing trouble in Tofino have been accessing carts.

“These two bears, I suspect, learned their skills last year and this year they’re starting right where they left off, breaking clips off carts. Both those bears are what we describe as food conditioned. They associate those carts with food reward and they’re looking for carts that aren’t secure that they can drag off and don’t have steel carabiners on them.”

He said residents should use steel carabiners to keep cart lids shut and should also tether their carts with a cable or chain so that bears can’t carry them off to destroy.

“Those two straightforward measures could really prevent conflict from beginning this season. It’s a real opportunity and a real window right now for people to do that,” he said.

He added that with only three bears currently being reported, it’s a solid time for the West Coast to crack down.

“If they start to have less success at accessing carts because they are properly secured, then there’s a chance and what we hope for is that they’ll move back on to natural foraging. It’s a window we have to take advantage of right now,” he said. “All the rest of the bears in the region, and we know we have a big population of bears, are foraging naturally.”

He urges anyone who notices one of their carts has been damaged by an animal to immediately report the situation to the ACRD at or 250-736-7678. Additional information about proper cart management can be found at Ozard Environmental’s website at

“It’s essential that people do that as soon as the damage happens. Don’t leave it in a damaged state and allow a bear to come back again and find an easy to access cart. Get it fixed right away,” he said.

Anyone who spots a bear, wolf or cougar in their community is encouraged to report their sighting to 1-877-952-7277.

“That gives us a window as to what’s going on in the communities. Those reports are essential for us to keep on top of things and allow us to direct our education and outreach efforts to the neighbourhoods and businesses that specifically have a need,” Hansen said. “That information is crucial.”

More information about WildSafeBC Pacific Rim, including updates on local wildlife activity, can be found on the organization’s Facebook page at

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EDIT: A previous version of this story suggested that anyone with a damaged cart should report it to Ozard Environmental through its website at The ACRD reached out and clarified that damaged carts should be reported to the regional district at or (250) 736-7678.

Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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