It is not uncommon to see bears in the Village at this time of year. The weather is changing and the bears are feeling the pressure to gain weight prior to winter denning.
Bears are opportunistic hunters and learn very quickly, especially when food is the reward. Drawn into town by the unpicked fruit on trees, bears realize that we are not a threat and claim our backyards for their own. They can become aggressive in protecting their food sources, causing property damage in search of fattier foods such as solid waste and unpicked fruit, posing a risk to public safety.
Often residents like to observe bears in their backyards and will back away and give the bear space. However, by doing this, the bear is shown that humans are not a threat and they are rewarded by the fruit or garbage in that person’s yard. The bear will continue to come back and become bolder as its comfort zone increases. A bear that has lost its natural fear of humans and is food conditioned has a very high chance of being destroyed.
It is our responsibility as a community to ensure the safety of ourselves, our neighbours and our bears. Following these simple guidelines could save a life, human or bear:
- Pick your fruit.
- Call a local volunteer service to pick your fruit for you. Contact Lush Valley at http://www.lushvalley.org/fruit-tree-program.html
- If you don’t want to utilize your fruit trees, spray blossoms off your fruit trees with water in the spring to prevent fruit from growing.
- Ensure your garbage, recycling and organics containers are stored in a bear proof container or enclosure.
- Wash your containers regularly with bleach.
- Replace bird feeders with bird baths; only feed birds while bears are denning.
- Ensure your BBQ is clean. Wash the grease trap and burn off any excess food.
- Feed pets indoors.
If you see a bear in your yard, here are some best practice measures suggested by Bear Aware:
- Don’t allow the bear to remain on your property. Bang pots and pans together from a safe place.
- Call the 24 hour RAPP line to report the bear 1-877-952-7277.
- Once the bear is gone, walk around your property and remove any bear attractants.