Conservation officers forced to destroy bears in Trail

Two black bears found prowling last week in West Trail were destroyed Sunday afternoon.

Two black bears found prowling last week in West Trail were destroyed Sunday afternoon.

When B.C. conservation officers arrived on the scene the bears were in a fruit tree of a resident’s yard near the intersection of Binns and Buckna in the residential neighbourhood.

“It was a group of four bears,” conservation officer Blair Thin said. “These bears were bluff charging a homeowner that had left his garbage out in that area.

“We approached the situation like the bears were aggressive, but the bears were just protecting what they viewed as their food source.”

The two bears, plus several others, had been seen in the neighbourhood for a couple of weeks, Rossland’s Bear Aware spokesperson Sharon Wieder added, and were attracted by fruit trees on a vacant lot and in the yard of several residents on Buckna.

“It was a built up area with lots of people around and no direct safe route in which the bears could actually come out of the tree and leave the area safely,” said Thin.

And although the City of Trail has had a longstanding bylaw in place to minimize problems with bears, it has been criticized for not being widely practiced, Wieder explained.

The bylaw says people can’t put their municipal garbage out before 6 a.m. on the day of garbage pick-up, said Wieder.

“I got a call from one of the residents in the area who witnessed it and so I went out there to talk to them and have her show me around the neighborhood,” she said.

“I’m going to be following up with the City of Trail to see if we can come to some sort of arrangement with the landowners to manage the trees better.”

Fruit attracts bears

It’s that time of year again: unpicked fruit is luring bears into the community.

But according to Wieder, it’s easy to prevent problems related to bears and garbage, however, people have to be proactive before bears become your new neighbours.

“Bears will return to the same place year after year,” Weider explained. “They have great memories so if a tree is not being managed one year and it gets left, they’ll be back, year after year.”

She said picking fruit as often as possible and keeping it from rotting on the ground will discourage bears from visiting a yard.

In addition, people should consider removing and replacing unwanted fruit trees with another type of tree that does not bear fruit, or pruning their trees. It results in larger, more desirable fruit and less waste.

According to the Bear Aware website, bears need the equivalent of 64 hamburgers a day (up to 30,000 calories) to build up their energy storage and fat for the coming winter.

But unlike teenagers who could consume that quantity and quality of food, a bear’s natural sustenance this time of year is tender green shoots from plants such as horsetail, skunk cabbage and dandelion. Ants and other insects, as well as carrion, are also fancied by these omnivores.

For those who wish to keep their fruit trees—and want to compost—Wieder suggested using electric fencing to make properties with fruit more difficult for bears to access.

To report unpicked fruit or irresponsible disposal of garbage, and even bear sightings, call 1-877-952-7277 anonymously. Visit http://www.rosslandbearaware.org/ for more information.

To participate in a free fruit picking service, contact Harvest Rescue (Wendy in Trail at 250-512-1829, or David in Rossland at 250-362-9557).