(Black Press file photo)

Bears spotted in Greater Trail

Conservation office has already fielded many calls of bears in the Trail area

Early in the season and there’s already been reports of food-conditioned bears frequenting Greater Trail neighbourhoods.

“Bears are awake and roaming low elevations until snow melts and the hills green up,” Ben Beetlestone, COS (Conservation Officer) told the Trail Times. “There have been numerous calls from the Trail area regarding bears getting into unsecured garbage.”

For the most part, bears are driven by an insatiable appetite – mainly because of their need to put on about 30 per cent of their post-hibernation body weight to make it through the next winter’s sleep.

“Under the Wildlife Act it is an offence to attract dangerous wildlife to a property due to attractants,” Beetlestone warned. “The fine is $345 via violation ticket. The COS will be taking enforcement action against those residents who fail to take responsibility for their garbage storage and other attractants such as compost, and fruit trees in the fall.”

According to WARP (Wildlife Alert Reporting Program), an online resource run by WildSafeBC, household garbage attracted a black bear to the Gulch early Wednesday morning.

A black bear was also sighted in Fruitvale that day, and like the report in Trail, WARP notes that garbage was the lure.

WildSafeBC is urging homeowners and tenants to do their part in keeping wildlife in the wild, by storing refuse indoors and/or secured until the day of collection. Garbage is the number one attractant cited in reports to the provincial hotline called RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters).

Besides keeping garbage secured to avoid human-wildlife conflicts, WildSafeBC advises locals to put their bird feeders away when bears are active.

A kilo of bird seed has approximately 8,000 calories and is a great reward for a hungry bear.

For those who compost, the organization advises they mix organic waste with ample brown materials and turn the pile on a regular schedule.

Property owners and renters with livestock or backyard chickens are urged to use a properly installed and maintained electric fence to keep bears and livestock apart.

Two black bears were spotted in Rossland early this week as well, however no attractant is noted on the WARP report.

Another sighting was reported to police at dinner time on Sunday, but this one was in the upper bench of East Trail and involved a different type of animal.

The RCMP were first to respond to the call of a cougar sighted in the parking lot of Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital shortly after 5 p.m.

Beetlestone says the cat was gone by the time police arrived and, since then, there’s been no further sightings reported.

“The public is encouraged to be aware of their surroundings at all time, feed pets indoors, keep pets in at night,” Beetlestone said. “If a cougar is encountered, do not run, maintain eye contact, raise your arms in the air and talk loud and firm to the cougar. The public can refer to the WildSafeBC website that has oodles of information for all to read.”

Sightings can be reported to RAPP at 1.877.952.7277 and to the Trail detachment at 250.364.2566.

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