How to keep predators at bay

Early summer is the best opportunity to avoid bears being attracted by garbage and other food sources into residential streets.

  • Jul. 5, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Sadie Parr

Bear Aware Co-ordinator

Early summer is the best opportunity to avoid bears being attracted by garbage and other food sources into residential streets, where they may become conditioned to human food sources and turn into problem bears later in the year as they get hungry before hibernation.

One tool to ensure that bears are not accessing unnatural food sources is the proper construction and maintenance of an electric predator fence.  On Friday June 22 the Golden Bear Aware Program hosted Gillian Sanders to provide a workshop on how to do this.  Gillian has been homesteading in Bear Country for sixteen years without bear conflicts, and has helped to install more than forty electric fences to effectively protect  chickens, fruit trees, honeybees, goats, pigs, sheep, and calves from both black and grizzly bears.   The Columbia Basin Trust helped make this event possible through Sanders as she kicked off her Kootenay Electric Fence Workshop Tour in Golden.   The Town of Golden makes the Bear Aware Program possible in and around this community with financial and in-kind support.

Electric fences can be designed for permanent or temporary set -ups that can be adapted to your particular needs.  One topic discussed at the workshop was in regard to safety concerns for people and pets.  A properly installed electric predator fence has sufficient voltage to deter a bear but has alternating current, limiting any danger to humans or animals.  Of course, cleaning up attractants such as chicken feed and windfall fruit are essential to not drawing a bear to your yard that is in search of an easy meal.  Therefore property clean up and management of attractants is still important.  For folks who missed the workshop but interested in learning more about this option, please contact Sadie Parr, Golden’s Bear Aware Community Coordinator at, or 250-290-1222.  You can also visit the Bear Aware website at to learn more about electric fencing under “Conflict Prevention”.

On Saturday June 23 Golden Bear Aware’s community coordinator was at the CSRD Master Composting workshop. Improperly managed and smelly compost can attract bears into residential areas. With composting in bear country comes the responsibility to maintain your compost as odourless as possible to avoid attracting bears. The key to a healthy compost is adding equal amounts of brown and green materials. Layer your greens, such as kitchen scraps and fresh grass clippings, with no more than 10 cm of browns, such as dried leaves, grasses, and shredded newspaper and cardboard. Do not add fish, meat, fat, oils, un-rinsed eggshells or any cooked food. Also avoid adding cereals and grains. Remember to add oxygen by turning the compost regularly. To avoid overloading the compost in fruit season, freeze excess material and add it to the compost gradually.   If you are using an electric fence, why not include your compost within the area?

Keep garbage indoors until the morning of collection and call 1-877-952-7277 to report a bear sighting in a residential area, property damage or wildlife conflict.

All reports are confidential – a Bear Aware representative will speak to your neighbour to inform them about the risks of attractants at this time of year, and what they can do to avoid wildlife problems in the future.

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.