Report bear and other wildlife encounters to the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) RAPP line at 1.877.952.7277
NRRM Conservation Officers are notified daily about sightings, and immediately in emergencies. In an emergency, call 911 for the Northern Rockies RCMP.

Conservation Officer Service

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) is a public safety provider focused on natural resource law enforcement and human wildlife conflicts prevention and response.Conservation Officers work with private and public partners and local and provincial stakeholders to reduce human-wildlife conflict, as well as enforce federal and provincial statutes.

Conservation service report all poachers and polluters hotline


Report human-wildlife conflict

Dial the BC Conservation Office 24-hour toll-free call centre at 1.877.952.7277 to report wildlife-human interactions where public safety is at risk or if you observe dangerous wildlife in a residential area involved in any of the following:

  • Accessing garbage or other human supplied food sources
  • Instances where wildlife cannot be easily scared off
  • Dangerous wildlife is in a public location like a city park or school during daylight hours
  • When a cougar or wolf is seen in a residential area

In an emergency, call 911 for the Northern Rockies RCMP.

The British Columbia Conservation Foundation's Wildlife Alert Reporting Program(WARP) map allows visitors to view recently reported sightings.


"Keeping wildlife wild and communities safe"wildsafebc logo

WildSafeBC is the provincial leader in preventing conflict with wildlife through collaboration, education and community solutions. It has evolved out of the successful Bear Aware program and is owned and delivered by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation. WildSafeBC provides information on how we can reduce human-wildlife conflicts in all aspects of our lives, including how we live, work, play and grow.

WildSafeBC is designed, owned and delivered by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation as a partnership between local funding bodies (such as municipalities and regional districts) and the Province of BC.

For several years, the Northern Rockies has partnered with WildSafeBC to host a WildSafeBC Program Community Coordinator from May to September. In addition to educational presentations and events in the community, the community coordinator is assisting the NRRM as we work to achieve Bear Smart Community status. The Bear Smart Community Program details the steps and procedures by which communities can reduce the frequency and intensity of human-bear conflicts. The process involves a shift from the reactive management of “problem” bears to the proactive management of the attractants that draw bears into the communities. This management plan includes components on monitoring human-bear conflicts, education, managing waste, implementing and enforcing bylaws, managing green space, and community planning.

Kim Eglinski, Community Coordinator - WildSafeBC Northern Rockies | P: 250.775.0860 |

Check out the WildSafeBC Northern Rockies Facebook page for fun and informative events happening locally!


Reporting sightings


If I call the Conservation Officer Service about a bear in my yard, they will just shoot it.


Calling the Conservation Officer Service (COS) when you first see a bear in your neighbourhood or yard gives the COS more options to manage the bear.They can use safe aversion techniques to steer the bear clear of homes and attractants like garbage, recycling and barbeques and show the bear that being close to humans is not where it belongs.

If we let bears hang around in our back yards, we send a signal to them that this is normal behaviour. It’s not!Once a bear gets used to being near people and has found unnatural food sources, it’s really hard to change its behaviour.The next step is that the bear comes on your porch or tries to enter your home—and then it will be destroyed.

Don’t kill a bear with kindness by letting it hang around your house, and then calling the COS when it comes near your door. If a bear enters a building, the COS is obligated to destroy that bear due to the unacceptable public safety risk.

  • Report bear and other animal sightings to the BC Conservation Officer Service RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) 24-hour line.  P: 1.877.952.7277
  • Report poorly managed wildlife attractants (garbage, recycling, compost or plants) to NRRM Bylaw Services.
    P: 250.774.2541 ext. 2059     E:

Living in bear country

How we manage our living space has a great deal of influence on the amount of human-wildlife conflict we experience. While wildlife may need to pass through our living space, if we provide food, water, shelter and space, they may linger too long near our homes and this can lead to undesirable consequences both for us and the animals. WildSafeBC recommends that residents walk around their property at least once a year and review how they can reduce providing habitat to potential conflict species.

It is very important (and it’s the law in Fort Nelson) to secure garbage and recycling in a wildlife-proof manner and to keep all other animal attractants clean and/or out of reach.Help keep animals and people safe by following these tips:

  1. Never feed or approach a bear. Keep your distance, back away slowly and leave the area. Stay at least 100 meters away from bears at all times. Avoid bear encounters.
  2. Always manage your garbage and recycling, so that bears can’t access it. Put all garbage and recycling in wildlife-proof containers or enclosures, and ensure bins and buildings are always tightly closed or locked. Regularly wash all bins. See the Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants Bylaw for more details.
  3. Never leave food, garbage or recycling in your vehicle. Bears have a very strong sense of smell and can easily break into vehicles.
  4. Manage attractants such as barbeques, pet food, bird feeders and fruit and berry bushes. Keep them clean or out of reach, so they don’t tempt bears to hang around human-inhabited areas.
  5. Spring and fall are critical times to manage your attractants, as food is limited, and bears are especially hungry.
  6. Keep your dog on a leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behavior in bears.
  7. Hike in groups. Keep your group close together and make lots of noise while moving through trails.
  8. Keep your campsite bare and clean.
  9. Do not stop on the side of the road to view bears. If you see a bear while driving, slow down, but do not impede traffic flow to stop or view bears. Stopping creates unsafe driving conditions and can stress a bear by disrupting their eating pattern. Never get out of your car to view a bear on the side of the road.

How to avoid a wildlife encounter

Wildlife avoidance is better than having to deal with wildlife directly. Whether it is bear, cougar or a defensive cow moose, it is always better to have avoided a confrontation than to have to try to survive one. 

Follow these tips to avoid potentially dangerous animal encounters and help keep wildlife and people safe.

  1. Avoid moving through wild habitat silently or alone—instead, travel in groups and make noise.
  2. Avoid walking or biking on trails at dawn and dusk.
  3. Do not stop on the side of the road to view bears and other wildlife.
  4. Never feed or approach wildlife. Keep your distance, back away slowly and leave the area.
  5. Manage your garbage and recycling, so animals can't access it. Put all garbage and recycling in wildlife-proof containers or enclosures.
  6. Manage other attractants, such as barbeques, bird feeders and fruit and berry bushes. Keep them clean or out of reach, so they don't tempt wildlife to hang around human-inhabited areas.
  7. Keep your dog on a leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behaviour in wild animals.

The main reason wildlife will come near your home or place of work is for garbage, recycling or other food sources.

It is very important (and it's the law in the Northern Rockies) to secure garbage and recycling in a wildlife-proof manner and keep other animal attractants clean and/or out of reach. See the Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants Bylaw for details.

What to do if you encounter a bear

Bears and humans love the same habitats. There is a good chance you may encounter a bear in your backyard or on the trails in the NRRM. Being aware and prepared can help prevent potentially dangerous situations for humans and bears.

It is normal to be frightened when you encounter a bear but remember that most bears prefer to avoid contact with humans. Understanding the bear's behaviour can help how you decide to react in a defensive or aggressive encounter.

Know what to do in case of a bear encounter 

Bluff charges

A bluff charge is a form of defensive behaviour and indicates that the bear feels threatened and you, or your dog, are too close. It is when a bear charges at a person or dog and suddenly stops, or swerves, before making contact. This behaviour is most often the result of sows protecting cubs, bears defending a food source or due to a surprise encounter.

Here's how you can protect bears from feeling threatened, bluff charging or becoming directly aggressive: 

  1. Keep your distance. Always leave at least 100 meters between you and a bear, particularly sows with cubs.
  2. Keep all dogs on leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behaviour in bears. Repeated negative experiences with off-leash dogs lead bears to become aggressive towards all dogs and people.
  3. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. This is your best defence in case of a negative encounter. WildSafeBC bear spray information
  4. Make noise, especially when moving quickly or on trails with limited visibility.
  5. Remain alert. Remove headphones and look and listen for signs of wildlife activity.
  6. Report human-wildlife conflicts to the Conservation Officer Service by phoning 1.877.952.7277.

Trail safety

Bears and other animals will likely avoid you if they know you are nearby. Stay alert and look for any signs of activity, such as scat, to avoid surprising them. Keep yourself and others safe by following these tips on trails:

  • Consider an alternative trail, if bears have been sighted recently.
  • Ride, run, hike, or walk in groups whenever possible. Keep your group close together and talk loudly, if you see fresh animal signs (scat, tracks, claw marks on trees, overturned logs) nearby. Animals should avoid you if they know you are in the area.
  • Carry bear spray or another deterrent in an easily accessible,yet protected area and know how to use it.
  • Keep all dogs leashed. Dogs can provoke defensive behavior in bears. Mountain bikers should leave dogs at home.
  • Be aware that mountain bikers are at higher risk for an encounter, because they move quickly down a trail and are relatively quiet. Make noise if you are biking.
  • Take your earbuds out; remain alert and listen for signs of an animal in the area. Creeks and rivers can muffle sounds and make it harder for you to hear an approaching animal. They also make it harder for the animal to hear you, so make extra noise when using trails near running water.
  • On trails with limited visibility, use extra caution and make more noise to avoid surprising wildlife.

What are wildlife attractants?

Bears can smell food from great distances—even farther than dogs can. The best way to keep bears alive is to prevent them from gaining access to attractants—which may be plants or non-natural food sources. 

To help residents and visitors understand which items attract bears to homes, businesses and cars, the definition of a wildlife attractant has been updated in the NRRM Garbage Disposal & Wildlife Attractants Bylaw to include any substance or material that attracts or is likely to attract wildlife. Wildlife attractants now explicitly include, but are not limited to:

Food • Edible products • Pet food • Seed • Compost (other than grass clippings, leaves or branches) •
Grease • Oil • Antifreeze • Paint • Petroleum products

Other attractants in and around homes include garbage, recyclables, fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetable gardens, bird feeders, barbeques, citronella candles and even hot tub covers. Everyone is required to keep these items secured and away from bears. Homeowners should also ensure any renters learn how to manage attractants.

Bear attractant plants

Fruit trees and carelessly stored garbage are primary causes of bear-human conflict. Bears are natural scavengers, have great memories, a keen sense of smell and will remember an easy food source.

What is the problem with bears eating fruit? Fruit is a fine food source for bears and is similar to many natural foods that bears normally eat - the problem is that most fruit trees are in people’s yards.

Reducing wildlife conflicts is always a shared responsibility between residents and management agencies. Owning a fruit tree or berry bushes in bear country is your responsibility:

  • Pick fruit daily as it ripens or pick it before it ripens if you don’t intend on using it
  • don’t allow fruit to accumulate on the ground

The Garbage Disposal & Wildlife Attractants Bylaw prohibits letting fruit ripen and accumulate to the point that it attracts wildlife. If you have fruit bearing trees or shrubs, consider removing them. If you cannot remove the tree, it is your responsibility to remove the fruit as soon as it begins to ripen.

Help manage bear attractants

At home

  • Store garbage, recycling and organic waste (compost) in a secure building (not on your patio or porch).
  • Burn barbeques clean and remove all grease and food scraps after every use or take drip pans inside.
  • Feed pets inside and store pet food indoors.
  • Use non-citronella products to deter insects.
  • Use an aluminum hot tub cover

In your yard

  • Avoid planting shrubs and trees that provide food for bears and consider their removal if you already have them. Information on specific types of berries or other fruit, bushes, shrubs and flowers to avoid
  • Do not feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife such as deer has long-term implications such as increased disease risk, habituation to humans, habitat destruction, increased wildlife-vehicle collisions and public safety concerns. Read more about urban deer conflicts
  • Remove bird feeders during bear season (April 1 to November 30). Remember to clean the ground underneath bird feeders.
  • If you have a backyard compost, use a bear-proof composter or drop off compost free at the municipal waste depot site to be used in our vermicompost program.
  • Consider using an electric fence to keep wildlife out of your garden.•Pick fruit a few days before ripe or before it becomes extra fragrant.
  • Clean any fallen fruit. If you are planning to be away, ask a friend or neighbour to collect fruit.
  • Keep your lawn mowed and yard weed-free (grasses, dandelion and clover are natural bear foods).

At work

Store work site products, including petroleum products, biodiesel and other vegetable-based fuels and lubricants which are attractive to bears,in sealed and locked containers when not in immediate use (in compliance with safety regulations that apply to your work area).