Impacted garbage, recycling service in B.C. prompts call for vigilance at start of bear season

BC Conservation highlights dramatic conflict decline in Bear Smart Communities

As home maintenance projects spike during this period of COVID-19 self isolation, the province hopes homeowners will also conduct a careful survey of their property and remove all bear attractants as the hungry animals come out of hibernation in search of food.

With waste and recycling services impacted in some communities due to the pandemic, BC Conservation says vigilance is more important than ever to keep bears at bay.

“Residents could turn this unusual time into something positive for wildlife by taking extra time to secure attractants and educate themselves about Bear Smart practices,” Mike Badry, provincial wildlife conflict manager with BC Conservation Officer Service stated in a release April 17.

“If bears do not have access to non-natural food sources, such as garbage, fruit and bird seed within communities, they have no reason to hang around. This results in increased safety for both people and bears.”

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Bears typically hibernate from late fall to early spring, and often emerge from their dens looking for food to replace the fat sources they lost over the winter months.

Their keen sense of smell draws them to garbage cans, bird feeders, vehicles — anything that can ring their dinner bell. BC Conservation advises the public to keep garbage in a secure, bear-proof containers and inside a garage or shed. It’s also advised not put garbage containers on the curb until the morning of collection.

Taking down bird feeders, ensuring grease and fat left on barbecues is cleaned after use, managing compost and keeping pet food inside can also safeguard against curious bears.

Last year, the Conservation Officer Service received more than 20,000 calls related to conflicts with the animals in B.C. Many of the calls pertained to unsecured attractants.

BC Conservation is now promoting it’s voluntary Bear Smart Community Program, highlighting its success in eight communities throughout the province — Kamloops, Squamish, Lions Bay, Whistler, Port Alberni, Naramata, New Denver and Coquitlam — where sightings and conflicts with bears have dramatically declined.

READ MORE: B.C. cub that woke early from hibernation taken to sanctuary

In Naramata, a small village of 2,400 east of Okanagan Lake surrounded by fruit farms and livestock acreages, up to eight bears were destroyed every year prior to the community’s buy-in of the program in 2012. Since then, bear complaints went down from about 100 per year to 12.

The program, designed by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in partnership with the B.C. Conservation Foundation and the Union of B.C. Municipalities, is based on six criteria that communities must achieve in order to be recognized as “bear smart.”

In Naramata it included date changes and time restrictions on curb-side garbage collection, bear-proof containers in problem areas and a public education campaign in the schools.

“People have learned to modify their behaviour and have experienced the difference,” Zoe Kirt, a public project works coordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen stated in the release. “In under three years, the community has become almost completely self policing. It takes political will, it takes community will, but when those two come together, you can really make big strides forward.”



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

bearsConservation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

With waste and recycling services impacted in some communities due to the pandemic, BC Conservation says vigilance it’s more important than ever to keep bears at bay. Black Press File Photo

Just Posted

Williams Lake City Hall reopens for limited operations, COVID-19 precautions in place

It is reopening for tax services and building permits and licenses only

Summer students for Potato House Society a first

The jobs were made possible by several grants

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend about 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read