Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune.

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune.

FOREST INK: Follow good habits to keep humans and bears safe

I did some research on how we are doing in the Cariboo regarding bear interactions

Although we live in a relatively small subdivision there are enough extra food sources that can attract bears.

Even though this was not a good year for apples, I was a little slow picking them and one tree did get some damage.

Unfortunately for the bears the native choke cherry and saskatoon fruit was very poor this year in our area.

The rose hips are fairly abundant on some bushes but they don’t seem to be used by the bears.

So far this year my composting bins have not been a problem which I attribute to a good layering of old compost on top of the new material.

I also collect used canola oil for using in my diesel truck and as long as I use steel containers for storage along with a high capacity electric fence charger around some critical areas the problem bears have not returned as of the writing of this article.

I did some research on how we are doing in the Cariboo regarding bear interactions.

A post on the Conservation Officer Service Facebook page says April, May, and June, saw the highest number of black bear calls to the RAPP line in 10 plus years, nearly 10 thousand combined.

In the Cariboo from March 2021 to May 2022, there were 308 human-wildlife conflict reports in 100 Mile House, 423 in Quesnel, and 345 in Williams Lake Cariboo. The Conservation Officer Service said it’s been a busier than normal year for bear activity in the 100 Mile House and Williams Lake area.”

The main attractants are garbage, bird seed, barbecues, compost and fruit trees.

Once bears become habituated and food conditioned they learn that there’s a high-calorie food source there that takes minimal effort to get so they hang around.

This can lead to becoming too accustomed to people and the CO Service always takes public safety as number one so the Conservation Officer Service sometimes has to euthanize bears that are becoming a problem.

I also reviewed a detailed study done in Nevada entitled Impact of Human Activity on Black Bear Habitats in the Western Great Basin. If you are not convinced that bears can cause damage to cars and houses if proper precautions are not taken, you will be after watching a video on their website.

Thousands of dollars in damage to vehicles and cabins led to costly special doors and windows along with lots of electric fences and other devices needed to keep the bears away after they had become habituated.

The good news was that many communities have done much better by having everyone buy into taking the proper precautions, like using very sturdy containers for garbage, putting out garbage cans shortly before pick up, being careful with bird and pet foods and keeping the barbecue area and outside cooking areas clean.

These precautions need to be reviewed every year because all it takes are a few houses that do not follow the rules to then cause a problem for everyone, especially the bears.

Read More: FOREST INK: How many people can Earth handle?


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