A growing number of bears have inhabited the area and five Montrose men attended a regular village council meeting Monday night to express their concerns.
After as many as 12 bear sightings in the Montrose community and allegedly several calls to both RCMP and conservation, resident Leo Ganzini and his neighbours urged council members to get involved—indicating comments from council had more weight than a residential complaint.
Ganzini angrily addressed council members and the Montrose councillors unanimously agreed he had seen the worst of our furry friends this season. Throughout the past few months, bears have destroyed his garden and grape vines. As well as damaging trees and gates in his yard.
“My wife and I dedicated hours and hours and hours and we spent a great deal of money to own property, and now we are trapped in the basement,” Ganzini told council. “I have a piece of paper that says I own it, but I don’t own it, they (bears) do.”
Councillor Mary Gay, who was acting mayor, sympathized with Ganzini and encouraged his counterparts to make contributions and suggestions.
Resident Rob Greenwood stepped up to the plate and explained four recent encounters with bears in the community, the most startling was one of which put his dog’s life in jeopardy.
“He put both paws on my little dog and I couldn’t get rid of him by clapping or yelling so I just scooped him up in my arms,” Greenwood explained. “I have a (three kids), what if that was one of them?
“The youngest one is 12 and wouldn’t have had a chance.”
Greenwood noted calls placed to both RCMP and the local conservation branch, to no avail.
And while village council was sympathetic to the problems, chief administrative officer Kevin Chartres tried to explain council was powerless to step in. However when pushed, he volunteered that councillors could collectively write a letter after it determined who the correct authority on the matter was.
“Although it’s a bit late this year,” Chartres added, while suggesting Bear Aware tactics like removing attractants and unpicked fruit from the yard.
The community members pushed the issue and added it’s an issue to clean-up bear dropping and that Halloween is just around the corner.
“You understand it, you just don’t agree with it,” Chartres replied in protest.
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 being proactive goes a long way. 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.
Electric fences and bear-resistant bins were another suggestion to prevent bears from moving in next door.
As a result of the complaint, village council opted to research what else it could do to get involved. Writing a letter of complaint and making phone calls to conservation could be the first steps. Chartres indicated he would begin research about joining the Bear Smart program on top of the Bear Aware program, concluding that the programs are good but no longer effective.
“We’re our own worst enemies,” councillor Cindy Cook said, “and we’ve got to start taking responsibility”