A black bear. (photo from unsplash.com - Bruce Warrington)
As we pass the midway point of summer, WildSafeBC is sending out a reminder to keep your bear attractants in check.
Krystle Mitchelitis is WildSafeBC’s qathet Regional District Community coordinator.
She says keeping your trash indoors until garbage pickup day one of the most effective ways of keeping black bears off your property.
“In our district for curbside pickup they do ask that garbage is out before 7:30am, however leaving it out the night before can cause wildlife to get into it,” Mitchelitis said. “Otherwise, if you have a lot of garbage, you can be taking it to the transfer station regularly.”
She also suggests that you take organics out of your garbage and compost them instead.
If you have vegetable scraps or leftover fish, for example, she says you can wrap them up and freeze them until garbage day or compost drop-off.
“Just keep those smelly things out of the garbage,” she said.
In June, the BC Conservation Officer service responded to 3,068 calls for black bear conflicts, which is slightly down from the 3,495 from June 2019.
Seventy-eight bears had to be destroyed by COS officers.
Fruit also a major attractant
And while there’s a lot of talk about bears and garbage, WildsafeBC says it’s also important for people to realize how much of an issue fruit trees can be in regards to wildlife, if they are not properly managed.
Once bears get a reward from a fruit tree, they will return to the tree again and again.
Fruit might seem like a natural food source for these bears, but fruit in our backyards leads to habituation of wildlife.
Wildsafe says this is something that is dangerous and cannot be undone.
Simple solutions to bear habituation include:
- picking fruit and allowing it ripen indoors or to pick fruit daily as it ripens. Cleaning up windfall is also very important, as is pruning trees to control growth (making them easier to harvest).
- If you do not want your trees to produce fruit, prune the tree vigorously or spray spring blossoms with a garden hose to knock the blossoms off the tree.
- Even consider replacing your tree with a native, non-fruit or non-nut bearing variety. If you are not harvesting the crop, keep in mind that organics should be composted rather than placed with regular garbage.
Electric fencing is also a simple way to protect your fruit trees from wildlife.
Visit wildsafebc.com/electric-fencing to view electric fencing guidelines and checklists.
You’re asked to report wildlife conflicts to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
You can also report wildlife conflict other than bear, cougar, coyote or wolf online at WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), available here.
This program allows you to see what wildlife has been reported in your neighbourhood and be alerted of new sightings.
qathet Regional District WildSafeBC is supported by the qathet Regional District, British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.