Bears in our Backyard

Archival pigment print backmounted to aluminum

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Despite being amongst the most modern places in the world, many cities in western North America were really only very recently carved out of the wild, and as such, true wilderness can be just a couple of hours away, and in many ways much less. One side effect of this is the overlap in territory with some species, including bears. A surprisingly common experience for those living in suburban areas of BC and Alberta is finding a bear on or around your property. In fact, around 15,000-25,000 reports of bear conflicts are made to BC conservation officers each year. Needless to say, it can be a frightening encounter, as after all, “in your own backyard” is an idiom for something feared being too close for comfort. That said, data going back to 1986 shows the average rate of human fatality by bear attack at 0.5 per year, but the rate at which bears are destroyed due to human conflict is between 300–500 per year. That would suggest it is rather the bears who should be concerned about us building homes in their backyards.

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