With the arrival of Spring, warmer weather and greener grass, bears are already out and about and the Conservation Officer Service is cautioning residents into doing their part to ensure no tragedies ensue as a result of mis-managed bear attractants.
“It is a provincial policy to look for attractants this year and that includes garbage and bird feeders and whatever would specifically be attracting wildlife. So our officers will be out and about doing attractant-management auditing, to see if there are any areas of concern or any location where there are higher occurrences of bears wandering into the community,” said Tracy Walbauer, Sgt. Conservation Officer for the Skeena region, which stretches from Burns Lake, all the way to Haida Gwaii, and to Atlin.
Conservation Officers will start making these rounds soon as the bears start getting more active.
The Bear Smart Community Program run by The Ministry of Enviornment and Climate Change has said that every year hundreds of bears are killed in people and bear conflicts. Most of these problems begin when people allow bears to access non-natural food sources such as garbage.
The program also recommends securing and at times completely removing attractants as follows:
Do not store garbage or other organic waste outdoors. If you have curbside collection, only put the containers out on the morning of collection day – never the night before. Make sure recyclables have been cleaned.
Avoid feeding birds when bears are most active (April to November) and ensure bird feeders are always inaccessible to non-target species such as squirrels and raccoons. Do not let seed accumulate that may attract rats and other rodents.
Pick fruit early and do not let windfall accumulate.
Feed pets indoors and keep pets inside at night.
Keep your barbecue clean by burning off uncooked food and emptying grease container.
Under the Bear Smart Community Program, Conservation Officers could issue a written dangerous wildlife protection order, requiring “the removal or containment of compost, food, food waste or domestic garbage.” Failure to comply with this could result in the individual facing penalty of up to $50,000 and/or six months in jail.
“Individuals need to ensure that they manage their attractants; they shouldn’t have their bird feeders up this time of year, garbage should be stored securely, barbeques need to be cleaned properly. Anything that gives out a smell, will attract the bears for sure and once they get into the community, our concern is they become a public safety issue and that’s not always good for the bears either,” said Walbauer.
Walbauer is hoping that residents would do their part in terms of attractant management and said that if there are any concerns or occurrences, they should call the RAPP line on 1-877-952-7277 and an officer would get back to them.