Bear reports in province are on the rise.

Bear activity abounds

Golden Bear Aware Community Co-ordinator, Sadie Parr, talks about bears in B.C.

Sadie Parr

Golden Bear Aware Community Co-ordinator

There has been a great deal of bear activity reported across the province this past month, ranging from a black bear destroyed as a result of swatting a man in a hot tub in Whistler to large fines facing  a man in Christina Lake for feeding black bears.

Sadie Parr, Golden’s Bear Aware Community coordinator believes that the best bear encounter is one avoided.

Parr says “It is easier to manage attractants responsibly to prevent bears from becoming used to people or human food sources than it is to reverse a bear’s behaviour once it has learned to find food associated with people.”  The terms used to describe a these types of bear s are “human habituated” and “human food conditioned”.  Unfortunately, when a bear has a history of accessing human food sources there is little that can be done to reverse a bears’ drive for these high caloric meals.

Parr recognizes that the Town of Golden has drastically improved its waste management program and bylaws over the years, which have resulted in fewer bears accessing residential garbage, fewer bears being destroyed, and fewer potential safety risks for humans.  Golden’s existing bylaw (# 1257) states that:

“No person shall store, handle or dispose of waste and attractants in such a way that they are accessible to animals”.

While many people recognize that garbage is a major bear attractant, Parr feels that folks must also understand that bears also love a good barbeque, bird feeder, or unturned compost pile.

“While most people accept that bears are attracted to garbage, many don’t realize that bird feeders and barbecues can also be major attractants. Take your bird feeders in over the spring, summer and fall and clean your barbecue after every use. The odours produced by barbequing are easy for a bear to sniff out, as bears have an extremely strong sense of smell.

Unmanaged compost in a residential area is more than just stinky, it is a potential bear attractant too! Parr invites locals to learn how to “Compost with Care in Bear Country” on June 23 at the Master Composting Workshop.  To sign up for the event contact Carmen Fennell- CSRD Waste Reduction Facilitator, at cfennell@csrd.bc.ca or 250-832-8194.

Parr will also be hosting an introductory Bear Aware meeting for interested Volunteers Wednesday June 20, 7 pm at the Bear Aware office (across from Alexander Park Elementary School).  She welcomes people to come and learn about what Bear Aware does and how to be involved.

Parr would also like to remind people “Never approach a bear or try to feed it.  All wildlife does better when it is able to find and work for natural resources.  One thing the Golden Bear Aware Program is working on is identifying bear and other wildlife corridors so that future development will take into account travel routes and resources bears need to access in order to attain the natural resources they need to survive and thrive.”

There will be a free electric fence workshop Friday June 22, location to be determined.  This will be an excellent opportunity to learn how to properly install and maintain an electric fence.  An electric fence has the power to keep grizzly bears out of  landfills.  Portable electric fences have become an effective tool across the province to prevent conflicts between both black and grizzly bears and fruit trees, chickens, hogs, beehives, hobby farms and other small livestock, but it has to be done correctly.

To learn more about managing wildlife attractants visit the Bear Aware website www.bearaware.bc.ca. For details on the upcoming electric fence workshop stay tuned or contact Sadie Parr at 250-290-1222 or golden@bearaware.bc.ca.

Bear Aware gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Columbia Basin Trust, a regional corporation created to deliver social, economic, and environmental benefits for residents of the Columbia Basin.  Bear Aware would also like to thank its sponsors: the B.C. Conservation Foundation, the B.C. Ministry of Environment, and the Town of Golden.

To report a bear sighting or wildlife incident, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.