It is unusual for black bears to not be hibernating at this time of year, but there are definitely black bears up and around in Kimberley, says Shaunna McInnis of East Kootenay Wildlife Aware.
“Bears are not yet hibernating, at least not all of them,” McInnis said. “The bears will continue to hunt for food and as long as food is available, and there is often food available in town, they will not hibernate.”
Most notably garbage, fruit that was not removed from trees and bird feeders are the attractants, she says.
“There are bears with cubs in Marysville, Chapman Camp, and downtown. Bear tracks have been seen in the snow in many places in Kimberley.”
McInnis says she imagines there are bears active in Cranbrook as well.
Cougars are also active in town, she says.
“There have been quite a few cougar sightings in the past few weeks -— notably in Marysville and in Lower Blarchmont areas. Cougars are most active at dusk and dawn. However, they will roam and hunt at any time of the day or night and in all seasons. As dusk is so much earlier now, we humans are also more active at dusk, so it is not surprising that there are more sightings in the area.”
With many reports of cougar sightings, it’s a good idea to escort your children to the school bus in the mornings, especially as it’s still not quite full daylight at 8 a.m.
“Cougars seem to be attracted to children, possibly because their high-pitched voices, small size, and erratic movements make it difficult for cougars to identify them as human and not prey,” McInnis said. “Talk to children and teach them what to do if they encounter a cougar.
“Encourage children to play outdoors in groups, and supervise children playing outdoors. Consider getting a dog for your children as an early-warning system. A dog can see, smell, and hear a cougar sooner then we can. Although dogs offer little value as a deterrent to cougars, they may distract a cougar from attacking a human.”