Conservation officers have destroyed four black bears in Rossland since the spring, and one in Trail.
As is usually the case, food sources in residential garbage lured the bruins to urban neighbourhoods and food conditioning is ultimately what led to all five animals being put down.
Bears are also drawn to easy pickings like fruit on trees. So with harvest season right around the corner and wildlife looking to fatten up for the winter, conservation leaders are reminding locals to pick their bounty daily and keep tight control on all other household attractants.
“As we transition into harvest season, it is crucial that we minimize wildlife conflict,” says Katie Swinwood, WildSafeBC coordinator for Rossland and Trail.
“Domestic fruit is not a natural food source for bears and if they become food conditioned to accessing food in residential neighbourhoods, they are at a greater risk of getting into conflict,” she advised.
“Always pick fruit and allow it to ripen indoors or pick daily as it ripens. If you would like to make the fruit available to others, contact a local fruit exchange program or food bank.”
She suggests checking out The Harvest Rescue Fruit Exchange Facebook page, an informative resource and community forum that connects fruit pickers and helps them 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.
Of the 41 calls made to the Conservation Officer Service (COS) from the Rossland/Trail area regarding black bears this season, Swinwood confirmed residential garbage was the main attractant.
One of the primary offences is property owners and/or tenants who leave their refuse at the curb before the permitted hour on pick up day.
While COS and municipal bylaw officers have the authority to write violation tickets in those cases, for WildSafeBC the solutions lie in community outreach and foremost, in education.
Coordinators like Swinwood are key assets in teaching locals how to reduce wildlife conflict through simple practices to manage everyday attractants including garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders and more.
“This season, I have helped promote safe attractant management by placing stickers on garbage that has been put out on the curbside the day before pickup,” she explained. “It is extremely important that garbage is not placed out for collection prior to 5 a.m. on the day of collection service.”
Trail and Rossland have had respective bylaws in place for many years, both of which stipulate refuse must not be placed curbside before 5 a.m. on the day of collection.