Harvest Rescue serves double purpose

Harvest Rescue's Greater Trail volunteers are ready to pick fruit at homes where the homeowner is absent, elderly or incapacitated.

Harvest Rescue isn’t just about keeping the bears out of the neighbourhood.

For a number of years, WildSafeBC (formerly known as Bear Aware) has been in the community ready to pick fruit from trees to deter the forage of bears, but this year a group of volunteers is ready to pick and bring the fresh bounty home for their families to enjoy.

“I think most people who are on the list to pick fruit do so because they don’t have mature trees of their own,” said Sita Lawson, volunteer for Harvest Rescue in Trail, Montrose and Fruitvale.

“It’s more about getting involved to make use of the fruit and not letting it go to waste.”

Harvest Rescue volunteers are ready to pick fruit at homes where the homeowner is absent, elderly or incapacitated.

“Once in a while if the homeowner can’t do it themselves we will go and clean up the area if the fruit is not useful.”

Recently Lawson volunteered to pick fruit that was small and riddled with worms. “I went over and picked and took the fruit to the bird rescue (BEAKS) in Castlegar so even that didn’t go to waste.”

The Rossland Community Garden in Jubilee Park is the site of the annual Community Fruit Press Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.,  which is an event for people to bring in apples to press into juice.

“There is an interesting history about the press which was built by Rossland residents years before Bear Aware starting managing the event over 10 years ago,” said Wieder. “People can book a time to bring apples to press for juice. They can bring it home to to whatever they like with it, quite often it is put into carboys and made into cider.”

To book a pressing time, call Wieder at 231-2751 or email rosslandbearaware@live.com.

During this time of year, bears are in a cycle of hyperphagia, meaning they eat and drink up to 20,000 calories in a single day to fatten for hibernation.

“When I am working with the kids I tell them it would be like eating 40 hamburgers a day,” said Wieder. “Unpicked fruit, bird feeders, nut trees and small animals all become targets for the bears.”

Although bear sightings are down this year possibly due to an abundance of natural food sources, she reminds the community that Rossland and Trail experienced a huge fruit tree crop this year and the abundance of apples, pears and plums are a calling card for the animals.

“People in general seem to be paying more attention to their garbage which has always been the number one attractant for bears,” she said. “Right behind garbage is fruit trees so I think it’s important for residents to know about Harvest Rescue. Having someone help pick and sharing fruit all helps to keep the bears out.”

Since the inception of Bear Aware the annual destruction of bears across the province has dropped from almost 1,000 animals a year to approximately 500 animals a year.