This time of year, bears throughout the province are out and about searching and competing for available food sources while gearing up for the winter months.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure bears don’t have to be destroyed for public safety.
What can YOU do in urban areas?
- Use bear-proof waste containers or keep garbage secured in the house, garage or shed until pickup day and return the containers to the secure site once they are emptied.
- Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily and remove any unused fruit trees.
- Use bird feeders only in winter. Keep the ground free of seeds and nuts.
- Clean the barbecue grill after each use, and store it in a secure area.
- Bring pet food dishes inside and store the pet food inside.
- Do not add meat products or uncooked food to compost. Turn it regularly and keep it covered.
- Use electric fencing to protect attractants such as backyard chickens, beehives, compost bins and fruit trees.
- If residents spot a bear, they are advised to remain calm, keep away from the bear and bring children and pets indoors, if possible.
- People should never approach a bear and should not run from it, as bears can move very quickly.
- Once a bear has left the area, residents should check their yards to ensure there are no attractants available.
- Work with your neighbours and municipal government to create a Bear Smart Community.The most effective way to reduce human-wildlife interactions is to secure food attractants, such as garbage. Communities where attractants are managed properly, such as Bear Smart”communities, have seen significant declines in bear conflict calls, and the number of bears destroyed. Kamloops, Squamish, Whistler, Lions Bay, Port Alberni, Naramata and New Denver are designated Bear Smart. What can YOU do when hiking in bear country?
- Make sure someone knows your plans. Before your trip, leave names, trip plans and date of return with friends or family.
- Carry bear spray, keep it accessible and know how to use it.
- Go with friends. Bears are less likely to approach people in groups. Check each other’s position often and remember that the larger the group, the less likely a bear will hang around.
- Keep young children close to you. Children can be particularly at risk because they are small and make erratic movements.
- If you hike with a dog, keep it on a leash. An unleashed dog can lead an irritated bear back to you and your friends.
- Make noise. Carry a noise maker, talk loudly, sing or let out occasional warning shouts. This will alert bears to your approach so you are less likely to cause a surprise encounter. Remember that other sounds, such as flowing rivers and streams and strong winds, can drown out the noise you make. Be extra noisy at these times.
- Avoid areas with typical bear food sources. These include berry patches, grain fields, garbage pits, beehives and anywhere you can see an animal carcass.
- Watch for fresh bear signs. If the signs look like they were made recently, quickly and calmly leave the area.
- Avoid being out at dusk, night or dawn. Although bear encounters can happen at any time of day, bears are most active at dusk, night and dawn.
- Under the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to feed or attract dangerous wildlife, such as bears.
- Penalties can be as high as $100,000 in fines and one year in prison.
To learn more about reducing bear conflicts, and becoming a “Bear Smart” community, visit:http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart/