Ripe fruit draws bears into neighborhoods

“The biggest thing is to not have anything around that the bears would be interested in eating.” - Sharon Weider

It’s that time of year again – the time of year where fruit trees are ripe, the colour of the leaves start to change and bears are getting ready to fatten up for winter hibernation.

Sharon Weider from WildSafe BC says that with bears in the area looking for as much food as they can, the animals may enter residential and urban areas on their hunt.

“They become more determined to find food sources,” she said. “So often, what happens is if there isn’t enough natural food for them, or if they happen to be cruising through an urban area and come across things like fruit trees or garbage, then they will absolutely take advantage of the opportunity.”

Weider says that there are plenty of ways that residents can make sure bears stay off their property including picking ripened fruit from the yard, composting properly and not storing garbage outdoors.

“The biggest thing is to not have anything around that the bears would be interested in eating,” she said. “A lot of people do canning and food preparation for the winter, and so you often have stuff left over. If you are composting, mix things in so you have a layer of fresh stuff and then a good layer of dead stuff on top to help the microbes break everything down and it won’t smell and attract bears.”

Weider also suggests feeding pets indoors, cleaning the yard of bird seed, fruits and any garbage.

Apple trees and other fruit trees can be hard to pick and WildSafe BC offers a free service called Harvest Rescue to help people keep their yards free of extra bear-attracting fruit.

“If people have fruit trees that they can’t pick, or they just don’t want the fruit, we can have people come and pick the fruit for them,” she said, adding that the program is particularly beneficial to seniors who can’t get out and on a ladder. “It is a free service and it is really something that could help (with the bears).”

Pickers usually keep the fruit, but fruit tree owners get some too, if they want it. The landfill in Trail also accepts unwanted fruit for a small fee.

This past summer was a quiet one for bears in the Trail and Rossland areas and Weider says it is because natural food sources were abundant.

“It’s been amazingly quiet this summer and I think that a big reason behind that is that the huckleberry crop has been so unbelievably good this year,” she said, adding that although it has been quiet, there were a couple of bear incidents in June. “We did have some trouble back in June with eight bears that had to be destroyed in Rossland and Trail. They were coming out of hibernation and when they were passing through town, they found garbage and bird food, so they stuck around. It got quiet once the huckleberries started to ripen.”

Those eight bears were the only ones that needed to be destroyed in the area this year.

Should someone find a bear in their yard, Weider says that the best thing to do is scare it away.

“Just kind of yell at them,” she said. “Some people will send their dogs out, but I don’t recommend that only because the dog isn’t something the bear needs to be scared of.”

Putting up a temporary electric fence is another option that Weider says is extremely effective.

For more information on how to prevent bears in your yard or how to get rid of them, visit wildsafebc.com or call Weider at 250-231-2751.

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