A sharp increase in bear activity has been noticed in and around Castlegar in recent weeks according to WildSafe BC Coordinator Jenny Wallace. A central component in the spike, as usual, is garbage.
“Garbage left accessible to bears is not only unsightly,” says Wallace in a recent press release, “it is ultimately dangerous to both bears and people. Bears that become used to this unnatural food source can become a serious public safety concern and as a result, are often destroyed.
Wallace, with the help of volunteers has conducted curbside garbage inspections. They’ve found a lot of people are jumping the gun, putting out the garbage the night before pick-up, “often storing garbage in open carports during the week.” Neighbours are put at risk as bears are attracted into residential areas.
Along with people being endangered, the so-called ‘problem bears’ typically end up dead. Garbage strewn all over the place is a messy, smelly side effect.
According to Jenny Wallace, “there has been considerable bear activity in town so far this season and unfortunately these animals are finding unnatural food from one end of town to the other.
“Typically, bears will move back up to higher elevation habitats in the summer months as berry crops start to ripen, but unnatural foods can keep them lingering in town. In order to keep bears moving through, it is important that residents are vigilant in making sure their properties are free of bear attractants.”
Some tips to remember:
• keep all garbage securely inside garages or sheds until the morning of collection day;
• consider investing in a bear proof garbage bin if you cannot keep garbage indoors;
• wash out garbage and recycling bins regularly to reduce smells that may attract bears;
• take birdfeeders down until the end of bear season;
• feed all pets indoors and store all pet food and dishes securely inside.
To keep an eye on wildlife activity in your neighbourhood, visit the Wildlife Alert Reporting System (WARP) map at www.wildsafebc.com. Here, you can sign up to be notified when bears or other species of wildlife are reported near your home.
For more information or questions call Jenny Wallace at 250-365-8971 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay up to date on local wildlife issues by liking “WildSafeBC Castlegar” on Facebook.
To report a wildlife conflict, call the Conservation Officer hotline at 1-877-952-7277.
WildSafeBC (previously Bear Aware) is an educational program, developed and owned by the BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF) and has been delivered throughout the province since 1999. In Castlegar, WildSafeBC is supported by Columbia Basin Trust, the City of Castlegar, RDCK and the BC Ministry of Environment.