An image of foretelling: Cal Schultz spotted this mama bear and cub checking out cherry blossoms on a Warfield property in May. (Cal Schultz photo)

Pick fruit to help keep hungry bears at bay

WildsafeBC is making rounds in the Trail area reminding people to pick their harvest

So far it’s been a quiet bear season around town, and Desiree Profili is hoping it stays that way with harvest time picking up steam.

The Rossland/Trail WildsafeBC coordinator says communities appear to be getting the message about garbage control so the next hurdle is unattended fruit trees and vines.

“I’ve had people phoning and asking for help picking grapes and ripening fruit, which is encouraging,” Profili said during Aug. 21 Trail council. “But without a system in place of volunteers and places to donate the fruit to it creates a problem for the coming months,” she added.

“One point I am hoping for the city’s help on is identifying and picking or removing fruit trees on public property to help decrease the attractants during the fall months.”

Foresight is another strategy Profili is using to tackle the garbage and fruit problem – she is bringing the WildsafeBC message to younger ears, because children take their lessons home.

Profili visits classrooms during the school year, drops by the home school program, and was a recent guest for 50 summer camps kids and at least that many enrolled in the public library’s summer reading program.

“I find by targeting the kids, they bring the information home to their parents,” Profili shared. “It’s been really good because I have had so many parents come to me and say my child brought this pamphlet home and she/he is the one telling me we have to do these things and we have to pick the fruit trees.”

Profili already has school visits set up this fall and she has extra helping hands ready to go out and pick ripening fruit.

“High school students are needing their volunteer time,” she explained. “We have all these students that need time crossed off and they are asking to help, so I am hoping to use them as a resource.”

Moving forward, Profili has three goals within the City of Trail aside from raising public awareness about wildlife attractants through education, and developing a mutual plan with councils and conservation officers to decrease wildlife encounters.

First, Profili would like the city to consider a long-term approach by becoming a recognized Bear Smart community.

Trail is already well on the way with its garbage pickup bylaw, bear proof bins and ongoing backing of the WildsafeBC program, but more can be done in terms of future urban planning.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” she acknowledged.

Another more immediate East Trail objective involves unpicked trees at an Interior Health facility.

“(I would like) to open a conversation with Interior Health about the possible removal of the nut trees on the Kiro Wellness site,” Profili said.

“As they have become a large attractant to black bears.”

She also plans to continue educating locals about the benefits of electric fencing for garden, pool and compost containment.

“In the last month I have moved forward with some of these goals, I have helped set up a two electric fences in the Trail are around bees and fruit trees,” she said. “I have been out doing some canvassing, and have set up classroom events for the coming September to continue to educate kids on wildlife attractants and how to be part of the solution in keeping animals alive and in the wild.”

For more information about the Rossland/Trail WildsafeBC program, contact Desiree Profili at 250.231.7996 or email rossland@wildsafebc.com.

Profili’s message echoes a warning issued by the provincial branch of WildsafeBC this week. That being, bears could soon become troublesome as they fatten up before hibernation because of the severe wildfire season.

Provincial coordinator Frank Ritcey says there is always increased conflict between bears and humans in the autumn as bruins search for food.

He predicts this fall will be particularly challenging because huge swaths of the province have been charred by wildfires, killing the berries and grasses bears rely on.

Residents with gardens and fruit trees are advised to harvest early and often, while garbage cans should be kept secured and indoors until just before pickup.

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