The Cariboo Regional District and District of 100 Mile House are partnering with WildSafeBC this summer to better educate residents on ways to avoid attracting wildlife into our communities.
If you’ve lived in the Cariboo or indeed Canada, for any length of time you probably know that when it comes to bears the number one thing that attracts them to towns is garbage, especially unattended or unsecured garbage. In the South Cariboo the primary animal it attracts of concern if black bears which is dangerous for both the animals and the people they could come into contact with.
Keeping people safe and animals wild are two things that are very important to Mareike Moore the new WildSafeBC Cariboo co-ordinator who just took on this position in May of this year. A native of Germany, Moore fell in love with the Cariboo six years ago and said that this job is perfect as it combines her love for wildlife with her love of talking to people.
As part of the educational portion of their program, Moore said that she will be visiting various neighbourhoods in 100 Mile House and 108 Mile Ranch this summer to do garbage tagging. On the night before garbage collection, she will be placing a highly visible and removable sticker on containers on the curb to raise awareness about the danger and to encourage people to store their bins inside. This is purely meant to raise awareness as WildSafeBC does not enforce any local bylaws or give out fines.
“The bin tagging program is mainly to help educate people to make them aware that when you put out your garbage on the day before collection, that it can be a strong attractant for a bear,” Moore said. “That can put you at risk and people in the neighbourhood at risk and the wildlife itself. It’s not to point fingers or make someone feel attacked it’s just to make them aware that they should store the bins inside, when possible, or at least not store them in the curbside when it’s not garbage day.”
Moore said bears are attracted to garbage if it has meat or fish products in the bin but also sometimes just by the smell. The danger is, however, that bears can come to associate trash cans with easy food and once they get food out of once they become food-conditioned and more inclined to continue to return to bins for food, becoming a problem. Another possible attractant for bears is bird feeders, Moore added, due to the high calory count of birdseed.
This campaign was highly successful in 108 Mile Ranch last year, when the program took place from June until September. The number of containers put out the night before collection decreased strongly after residents were made aware of garbage being a major bear attractant. It is likely that the results also affected the number of calls to the Conservation Officer Service RAPP line for black bear encounters.
When asked how to make your garbage less appealing to animals if you’re unable to store your garbage insides is to take food waste like fish and meat, put them in a plastic bag and then freeze it until garbage day. That way it doesn’t smell isn’t in your way and doesn’t attract any wildlife.
She will also be engaging in a campaign to go to door spreading the information but, rather than knock on doors, she’ll be hanging informational pamphlets on door handles for people to collect and read. She’ll begin within the next two weeks and target areas that are a bit more critical and likely to have bear encounters.
This summer Moore said they did the training to be able to offer the community bear spray workshops, which will teach people how to properly use and carry bear spray. If there’s interest in her hosting one for a business or an organization or any questions in general about what she does people can contact her via 250-302-2132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.