Supplying residents with bear-resistant garbage bins and removing ornamental crab apple trees along Twelfth Avenue North would help solve bear problems in the city, said Dylan Matheson, Wildsafe BC’s co-ordinator in Williams Lake.
“Right now the city’s top-lifting garbage cans offer no resistance to bears and that’s one of the reasons we have a bear problem in the town,” Matheson said during a presentation to city council last week.
Matheson was hired in June by Wildsafe BC to run the Wildsafe BC program for the first time in Williams Lake. Funding for the program came from the Ministry of Environment with a portion from the city.
Matheson also provided a submitted written report to council that made a number of recommendations for reducing bear attractants.
One of the recommendations suggested the city create a bylaw where residents would not be permitted to put garbage out until the morning it’s going to be collected.
The bylaw could also require that garbage be stored away so it isn’t easily accessible to animals, he added.
There were almost no bear calls in the summer months, but once September rolled around a total of six bears were destroyed, five of them in the same neighbourhood.
“The public was quite angry about that and it was in that Twelfth Avenue neighbourhood,” Matheson said.
Cougar calls, of which there were quite a few, were more on the outskirts of town.
“We don’t get too many cougars coming into town. There was one on 12th Avenue that I know about and the one on the golf course.”
With an aim to provide the public with education around managing attractants, Matheson went door-to-door and talked to 550 people. He put up public displays at the farmers’ markets, craft fairs and the Stampede.
Matheson did several school presentations about bear awareness, reaching 437 students in 19 classrooms at public and independent schools.
“We’ve been successful reaching out to our youth to pass on the information to their parents,” Matheson said. “That’s one of our best tools because youth tend to be a lot more passionate about animals than the adults.”
Because it was the first year of the program in the lakecity, Matheson couldn’t make any comparisons, but said if the program remains then in a few years the city will know if it’s made a difference.
After receiving Matheson’s report council tasked staff with costing out the recommendations in the report.