Bear encounters down last year

The 2012 Bear Aware season was slightly quieter overall than previous years in Trail, according to Rossland Trail Bear Aware.

The 2012 Bear Aware season was slightly quieter overall than previous years in Trail, according to the recent report released by the Rossland Trail Bear Aware committee.

The number of problem wildlife occurrence reports (PWOR) in the city rose by one to 124 for 2012, but far below the six-year high of 189 in 2010.

And the number of black bears destroyed in the city was down as well, with four bears compared to six in 2011 and 13 in 2010.

Sharon Wieder, Rossland Trail Bear Aware community coordinator, said a very wet spring with cooler than normal temperatures affected bear activity.

But the common theme of unsecured garbage continued unabated in 2012, she said in her report.

“People in both communities are calling more often to report garbage problems such as unsecured dumpsters and residential garbage issues such as outside storage and putting garbage out too early before scheduled pick up.”

However, Montrose wildlife reports rose from two in 2011 to 33 in 2012, Warfield jumped from eight to 21 and Fruitvale from 21 to 36, all communities without a Bear Aware program.

“This increase appears to indicate a need for Bear Aware programming in those communities, prompting the goal of seeking financial support from Warfield and Montrose,” said Weider.

The issue of garbage was highlighted in Trail in September with the shooting of a bear family by a conservation officer in West Trail.

Wieder said Trail’s current waste management bylaws are ineffective at keeping garbage inaccessible to wildlife on private property, mostly due to garbage pick‐up occurring in laneways.

“City council is reluctant to pass stronger bylaws as they feel the region and province should do more to manage bear related problems,” she said in her report.

The goal this year is for “enhancements” of the City of Trail’s waste management bylaw. This could be in lieu of adopting a new wildlife attractant bylaw, she said, or ideally would be followed by adoption of a wildlife attractant bylaw.

The huckleberry crop is always a major factor in the number of bear sightings around the area, Weider noted. The huckleberry crop of 2012 was approximately 75 per cent (as assessed by volunteers) of the bumper crop of 2009. This year the crop was ripe later than normal but was quickly consumed by a hot dry spell in July.

“Other berries were abundant including Saskatoon, dogwood, mountain ash and snowberry, which may have accounted for reduced bear reports in August,” said Weider.

There was a poor crop for domestic fruit, such as apples and plums.

“This may have contributed to lower than average bear activity in Rossland and Trail in the fall months,” she said.

Bear Aware is a community education program, delivered by a Bear Aware community coordinator, with the goal of reducing conflict between people and bears. The program has been delivered in Trail since 1999.

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