Black bears need personal space as they prepare for winter, says wildlife advocate

Changing weather conditions in spring and summer are disrupting bear behavior.

“It’s been an unusual year in terms of weather,” said Sam Webb, program coordinator for Wild Wise, a Sooke-based volunteer organization that teaches people how to coexist with wildlife through education.

“Weather definitely affects bear behavior because it affects their food.”

Due to the unseasonably cold spring this year, there are fewer plants available for planting. The salmon spawning season has been delayed by the drought, so the bears have had to find food elsewhere, such as in unsecured dumpsters.

It’s not just plants and berries that have been affected by the reduced rainfall, Webb said.

“With not as much rain this year, the water level in the Sooke River is not as high, which means people are getting closer to the bears fishing,” she said. “It’s dangerous for dog walkers and disturbs bears that are eating.”

Wild Wise volunteers go to the Sooke Potholes every weekend to deliver a message about the need to respect wildlife.

“A lot of people don’t understand that bears don’t hibernate because it’s cold. They hibernate because they don’t have food,” Webb said.

“Unfortunately, the binge we’re in right now is when bears desperately want to eat as much food as possible. That’s why it’s so important to keep litter safe, especially at this time of year, so when the bears’ natural food sources are depleted When they do, they go into hibernation.”

For more information on how to live peacefully with wildlife, visit

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