Rosslanders urged to pick fruit to keep bears away

Neighbourhood “feels like a safari park,” councillor says.

A juice-pressing event is scheduled for Saturday in Rossland. Unpicked fruit trees are attracting bears into the city, council heard Tuesday. Photo submitted

A juice-pressing event is scheduled for Saturday in Rossland. Unpicked fruit trees are attracting bears into the city, council heard Tuesday. Photo submitted

By Greg Nesteroff

Rossland council is calling on residents to pick their fruit trees as hungry bears descend on the city.

“My neighbourhood feels like a safari park at the moment,” councillor Stewart Spooner said Tuesday. “We’ve got [black] bears and grizzlies and coyotes running around.”

While Spooner said the increased wildlife activity has a lot do with the dry summer locally, he added “I’m shaking my head at all of the fruit-laden trees that are unpicked. What should we be thinking about these treats that are drawing bears into town?”

Councillor Dirk Lewis noted a gleaning event is planned, but not until mid-October. There’s also a community fruit pressing event on Sept. 11 at 888 Esling Drive (the home of Larry Doell and Audrey Gerein). You can book a half-hour slot by filling in your name and contact info in this spreadsheet. Each press fits up to three 18-gallon totes of apples and squeezes over 25 litres of juice.

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Spooner said he appreciated that the event is helpful for those interested in juicing, but suggested the city may need to get tough through bylaw enforcement and removal of trees.

“It doesn’t seem like people care, because they’re not picking their trees,” he said. “If we cared about keeping bears out of town, there are much more interventionist things we could do. I’m not sure if there is an appetite for it in the community, but we’re just dropping the ball if we think we’re managing bears.”

Mayor Kathy Moore said a preliminary assessment for a BearSmart action plan from WildSafeBC is expected to come to council soon, and in the meantime she asks for the public’s help in picking fruit. She noted many fruit trees are on city property, which people are welcome to pick.

Councillor Andy Morel said he returned from a trip to Ontario this week to count five different bears in his yard over a two-hour period.

“Bears are eating unripe fruit. They don’t care,” he said. “These bears are hungry and there are lots of them.”

Morel said now that the city has a full-time bylaw officer, it’s a good opportunity to remind residents to pick fruit from trees.

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