Bear complaints are down this year in Castlegar, and conservation officers are crediting the city’s new organics collection program for the below-average numbers.
At a meeting earlier this month, Castlegar’s corporate services manager, Tracey Butler, told city council that there hasn’t been any bears destroyed in the city since spring.
The turnaround is noteworthy, especially since 2023 started out as a bad bear year when four very habituated bears that had a hard time hibernating were put down in the spring.
At the time, conservation officer Ben Beetlestone stressed that the number was unacceptable and avoidable.
He called on individuals to take more responsibility in managing their attractants, follow garbage and attractant rules including securing their garbage carts, and hold other people in their neighbourhoods accountable.
He also encouraged the city to enforce existing bylaws, provide more education and write new bylaws targeted at commercial offenders.
Resident diligence and the new compost program seems to be paying off.
“We’ve done really, really well,” said Butler. “Our conservation officer was giving us lots of accolades about how we have rolled out the organics collection program and the amount of work Emily teBulte [Castlegar’s waste ambassador] has done to educate people.”
She also said that those that are using their organics carts to get rid of nuts and fruits rather than leaving them on the tree or ground have helped reduce bear attractants significantly.
So far in 2023, 78 bear complaint calls have been made to the provincial RAPP line. For the same time period, Nelson had 152 calls, Trail had 99 calls and Rossland had 52.
In 2022 nine bears had to be put down in the Castlegar area.
Butler says the BC Conservation Services told her, “We don’t destroy bears in garbage. We only destroy bears that have gone further and are ripping apart property, trying to enter people’s houses or garages.
“If a bear is in your garbage, that’s your problem. Do something about it.”
The city is working on new bylaws that will enhance the ability to ticket repeat offenders who do not manage bear attractants on their property.