Skip to content

Educators stress being bear aware as Campbell River rolls out compost pick up

Compost and food waste can act as a bear attractant
The City of Campbell River launched its curbside organics collection program on April 17, 2023. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

After Campbell River’s compost pick up program kicked off this week, environmental educators are asking people to remember their wild neighbours.

“With the implementation of compost here in Campbell River, I think managing attractants becomes even more important,” said Wild Wise Campbell River Leave No Trace educator Lauren LaBossiere.

LaBossiere was talking specifically about bears. Vancouver Island is home to around 120,000 black bears, and is even home to a distinct subspecies of black bear, Ursus americanus vancouveri. Human interactions with black bears have been seen many times in Campbell River, prompting conservation groups to promote bear-safe garbage disposal. LaBossiere said that the new composting program has the potential to increase the frequency of human-bear interaction.

“It habituates bears to being in our neighborhoods,” she said, which “distracts bears from their natural diet and their natural habitat into our neighborhoods, and it can create a risk for the bear.

“So they’re eating a non-natural diet and it creates a risk for people in the neighborhood as well for unwanted wildlife and human interaction.”

Through the program, homeowners were given a compost bucket to collect kitchen scraps. The idea from there is to transfer kitchen scraps into a container to be put out the morning of regular pick up. LaBossiere recommends using a bin that can be closed, is easy to clean and is sturdy.

“The concern is if people didn’t fully explore that brochure that came with their kitchen collection bin,” she said. “(The kitchen bins are) very easy for a bear to kind of knock over and get into because they’re you know, really easy open and close.

“It’s early days, right? It’s week one, and everyone’s just kind of figuring things out.”

Last week, Greenways Land Trust also informed the public about the organics program and bear safety. Greenways’ Facebook post had a list of tips, saying to put out bins only on collection day, to bring the bins indoors quickly after pick up, to clean bins with eco-friendly detergents to reduce odours, and to freeze compost between collection days to reduce attractants.

The Greenways post also included links to the B.C. government’s Bear Smart page, the City of Campbell River’s organics page, and Wild Wise Campbell River, a group that has been working with the city on options for bear-proof public garbage bins.

LaBossiere is a fan of the organics pick up program, saying that “If the community all participates in the program we can do really great things, but it’s super important for homeowners to be diligent about reducing our impact on the natural environment around us and to do our best to make sure that our food waste is not attractive to bears.”

“They’re beautiful animals and it’s always better to see them out in the forest rather than in our yards and on our streets for sure, poor little fellas.”

RELATED: Keeping a lid on your garbage protects streams, wildlife — Greenways Land Trust

Putting out garbage the night before pick up is bad for the bears — Conservation Officers Service

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up