The BC Conservation Officer Service is warning residents across the province against taking fawns or baby deer home with them if they appear to be abandoned.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Chris Doyle, Deputy Chief for Provincial Operations at the BC COS, advised that the organization has been receiving a much higher number of calls than normal about orphaned fawns picked up by residents on Vancouver Island.

In response, Doyle reminded the public that deer often leave their young for several hours at a time and that this does not mean the fawns are orphaned.

See also: Here’s why you should stay away from those adorable baby deer

For most cases, Conservation Officers advised the residents of where the leave the fawns for the mother to find. In some cases, officers had to attend in person to reunite the baby deer with their mother.

In one case, Doyle says an individual took a baby deer home with the intent to keep it. That person was issued a fine of $345 and the fawn was successfully reunited with its mother.

Over the past few months, Conservation officers have also been receiving a higher than average number of calls for black bear sightings on Vancouver Island.

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change statistics show that between April 1 and June 17, there have been a total of 199 calls for black bear sightings in the Capital Regional District.

According to Doyle, increases in bear activities depend on several factors.

“It depends on the availability of natural food and the natural population of bears: what it might be at, how many cubs survived from previous years, and what the current population can be,” says Doyle.

“But really what drives conflict [between wildlife and humans] is attractants and so even though bear populations may increase and there may be a shortage of natural food for a period of time, it’s always important for people to reduce any attractants.”

See also: “It’s the worst part of the job”: Bear euthanized in Langford after eating garbage

Residents in B.C. are required by law to lock up their garbage in an enclosure or a garbage container that has locking lids where trash cannot be accessed by wildlife. Doyle adds that it is also increasingly important to secure food and trash at campsites this year.

Failure to lock up one’s garbage can lead to a $230 fine.

In the northern region of Vancouver Island, upwards of Campbell River, there have been more grizzly bear activity than normal this year.

There have also been several reports and gruesome images circulating of bears being poached and left for dead on the island in recent weeks.

No information is available on those incidents at this time. BC Conservation Officers are investigating all such reports.

B.C. residents can report all wildlife-human interactions that put the public and animals at risk by calling 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network.

More information about safety measures can be found on the WildSafeBC website.

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