Garbage remains key attractant for bears in Castlegar

Since March 1, there have been 41 black bear reports to the Conservation Officer Service.

This spring and summer, wildlife in Castlegar has been moving through the many wildlife corridors within the city. Unfortunately, some have lingered on, attracted by human food, bird feeders, freezers stowed outside, livestock, and livestock feed. Who can blame them? Bears require a large amount of calories — up to 20,000 calories per day in the fall when they are preparing for denning — and these unnatural food sources are easy pickings for hungry bears.

Since March 1, there have been 41 black bear reports to the Conservation Officer Service. Of these reports, 24 reports were associated with garbage while 17 reports were mere sightings not associated with any conflict. Five cougars, seven coyotes, and five deer were also reported. Residents of Ootischenia report that elk numbers are on the rise but these large ungulates have only resulted in one aggressive encounter. So far this year, grizzlies have kept their distance from town with only one report of a conflict with livestock.

The City of Castlegar is one of the most progressive cities in BC in terms of preventing human-wildlife conflict. Bear-resistant garbage bins have been issued to all residents and the city has wildlife attractant and solid waste bylaws in place. The city continues to monitor and support citizens by repairing damaged garbage bins and responding to concerns with regards to managing food attractants.

Many residents do their part to prevent conflict by managing their attractants responsibly, however there are also areas for improvement. That said, please remember not to put your garbage bins out on the curb the night before pickup. Castlegar’s Solid Waste Bylaw 1248 states: “Collection carts shall not be unlocked or placed on any City lane, street or boulevard prior to 4 a.m. on the day of collection.” Remember to unlock by 7 a.m. though!

Please report wildlife conflicts to the Conservation Officer Service hotline at 1-877-952-7277. These reports are made visible on WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), available at https://warp.wildsafebc.com/warp. This program allows you to see what wildlife has been reported in the province and be alerted of new sightings. Let’s work together to keep wildlife wild and communities safe.

For information on wildlife species in BC, check out wildsafebc.com and follow the WildSafeBC Castlegar Facebook page. If you have questions, please email Castlegar@wildsafebc.com or call 1-250-365-8971.

Pat Wray is Castlegar’s WildSafeBC co-ordinator.

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