Bears are waking up in our area. Making sure they don’t become habituated to human food requires us to be proactive. Photo submitted

Bears are waking up in our area. Making sure they don’t become habituated to human food requires us to be proactive. Photo submitted

WildSafeBC prepares for bear season in Castlegar

Some simple steps will prevent conflicts, the organization says

WildSafeBC is back for 2018 and it won’t be long before the bears are too. April typically marks the beginning of bear season in Castlegar and WildSafeBC community coordinator Jenny Wallace is encouraging residents to be prepared.

“This is the perfect time to look around your property for anything that might attract bears or other wildlife and make it inaccessible,” she says. “By taking a few simple steps to manage attractants now, you can greatly reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience bear conflicts in the upcoming season.”

As bears emerge from their dens, many will head to lower elevation habitat in search of early spring foods like grass, clover and skunk cabbage. Unfortunately, some of these bears will be tempted by backyard attractants like garbage, birdseed, pet food and poorly managed compost. Once a bear discovers these unnatural foods, it will go to greater lengths to access them in the future. These bears can cause property damage and may become bold or even aggressive around their newfound food sources. This sort of conflict often results in the death of the bear.

Fortunately, the majority of human-bear conflict is preventable. “Remove the food, prevent the conflict. It’s really as simple as that,” says Wallace.

Some proactive attractant management steps include:

• Keep all garbage and recycling securely stored until collection day.

• Ensure both clips are locked on bear-resistant garbage carts at all times between collection days.

• Take birdfeeders down for the season.

• Store all pet food inside.

• Manage compost piles carefully, aerating the pile often and incorporating new material slowly and with lots of “browns” (e.g. dried leaves, shredded newspaper) to speed decomposition.

For more information and tips on preventing human-wildlife conflict, Wallace can be reached at 250-365-8971, castlegar@wildsafebc.com, or on the WildSafeBC Castlegar Facebook page.

To report a wildlife sighting or conflict, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

WildSafeBC is an educational program owned and developed by the B.C. Conservation Foundation and is sponsored in Castlegar by Columbia Basin Trust, City of Castlegar, RDCK and the B.C. Ministry of Environment.