If you were wondering if there were more black bear sightings this year than usual, so is the government.
The Ministry of Forests recently published research about Central Island black bears, the first of its kind in BC, attempting to estimate the size of the population and its movements. There isn’t a lot of other Island data available, except for data from a North Vancouver Island study involving radio collared bears.
Part of the reason for the research is to assess if current harvest levels for black bears by hunters and First Nations are sustainable. They found levels were about the same as other parts of the province, no higher than eight per cent of the population.
They also found that bear deaths from negative interactions with humans were low on the Central Island, at only 0.3 per cent of the population.
In 2021, the BC forest ministry studied the region from Parksville south to Duncan, and west past Cowichan Lake. They found the density of bears in the region is higher than most other Pacific coastal regions, at about 569 bears per thousand square kilometres.
The researchers recommend similar studies for the rest of the Island, to better understand bear populations.