11/18/2013 10:59 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Fewer bears shot in B.C. this year by conservation officers

It was a good year to be a bear in B.C., according to conservation officers, who reported shooting 30 per cent fewer problem bears this year compared to last.

In 2012, 460 bears were killed by conservation officers. This year that number is down to 325.

Conservation officer Ben Beetlestone says last year more than 60 grizzlies and black bears were shot in Beetlestone's West Kootenay territory alone. But this year, Beetlestone says officers only shot about a quarter of that.

"It feels excellent. You can focus on other priority work and it's nice just not to have to chase bears around," he says.

Across most of B.C. the trend is similar, according to Frank Ritcey, the provincial coordinator for WildsafeBC.  He says several factors played a role in ensuring fewer bears became problems in B.C. communities.

"There was lots of grass growing so bears didn't have to come into town. And we had an exceptional berry crop as well."

But Ritcey says human behavior also played a role in keeping bears out of many communities.

"Part of it is the bears are staying out. But a lot of communities are getting on the bandwagon about managing attractants."

WildsafeBC is a foundation set up to reduce conflicts between humans and wild animals. It has coordinators in about 100 communities across the province and Ritcey says more are coming next year.

He notes bears are denning-up now for the winter and complaints are likely to fall off for the rest of the year.