After fielding calls about bear sightings for the past several weeks, the Trail RCMP is reminding locals to do their part to keep bruins from following their noses to easy pickings in the neighbourhood.
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“The RCMP is receiving regular reports of human-bear conflict,” Sgt. Mike Wicentowich reported Oct. 7.
“The best way to reduce urban conflicts is to remove all potentially accessible food sources from one’s property. This includes picking up fruit off the ground and securing garbage indoors,” he advised.
“The Bear Smart Community program information is available through the B.C. government website and can help the public be better prepared for these chance occurrences that happen in rural communities this time of year.”
Report conflicts with wildlife to the BC Conservation Officer Service line at 1.877.952.7277 (RAPP) or to the Trail detachment.
Of the seven black bear conflicts reported in the city since Sept. 1, the local WildSafeBC coordinator says the lure of household refuse was behind the majority of calls.
“Please ensure that garbage is stored securely in a garage, shed, or indoors,” advises Katie Swinwood, Rossland/Trail WildSafeBC coordinator.
“Any smelly or rotten garbage should be put in the freezer to avoid strong smells coming from your property,” she said. “In addition, always remember to wait until the morning of collection day to place your bin out for collection.”
Trail and Rossland have had respective bylaws in place for many years, both stipulate that refuse must not be placed curbside before 5 a.m. on the day of collection.
Bears are now in a state of hyperphagia; this means that they need to consume up to 20,000 calories a day as they ready for hibernation.
So anything left out that smells like a meal will lure in a bruin, especially the sweet scent of ripening fruit.
“I have also received several calls regarding unpicked/rotten fruit on residential properties,” Swinwood said. “Residential fruit trees are not a natural food source for bears, and it can cause them to become food conditioned and habituated.”
She suggests checking out the Rossland Community Harvest program and the Harvest Rescue Fruit Exchange on Facebook, which are great resources and community forums to connect fruit pickers and to help self-organize harvests in the West Kootenay region.
For those who don’t want to deal with their fruit trees anymore, think about replacing them.
“If you no longer want to manage your tree, consider replacement with a native, non-fruit bearing variety,” Swinwood recommended.
While she didn’t have updated numbers on the number of bears killed since the start of the season on April 1, in August, Swinwood confirmed that conservation officers had destroyed four black bears in Rossland and one in West Trail.
“Thank you to residents who are securing their garbage and harvesting their fruit trees sufficiently,” she said. “It is extremely important that we all do our part to ensure that wildlife stays wild and communities stay safe and we can do this by managing our attractants.”
Any questions or concerns can be made to Rossland@wildsafebc.com. If bears are observed in urban areas or in conflict (aggressive or accessing unnatural foods) she advises a call to the conservation officer service RAPP line.
Already this year, about 14,000 black bear sightings have been reported around the province. WildSafeBC says the BC Conservation Officer Service receives on average, about 14,000 to 25,000 calls in a year.