Garbage is the number one bear attractant in Castlegar. Garbage that is left accessible to bears is not only unsightly, it is ultimately dangerous to both bears and people. Bears that become used to this unnatural food source can become a serious public safety concern and as a result, are often destroyed.
The Castlegar Bear Aware Community Coordinator and volunteers have been conducting curbside garbage inspections the evenings before garbage collection for the last month. We have found that a considerable number of residents are putting their garbage out on the curb the evening before collection instead of the morning of. At least a dozen homes in each collection area were recorded as having grabage on the curb the evening before collection, with three times as many houses recorded in the downtown area. This practice puts neighbours at risk by attracting bears into residential areas and often results in a mess of garbage strewn throughout the neighbourhood by morning. It is also directly responsible for creating “problem” bears that typically end up dead.
It is illegal in BC to allow bears access to food (which includes garbage and other attractants) under the Wildlife Act. In Castlegar, there is also a bylaw that prohibits garbage being placed on the curb before 4:00am the morning of collection.
There has been considerable bear activity in town so far this season and this activity will only pick up as the summer progresses. It is important that residents are vigilant in making sure their properties are free of bear attractants.
Brown bear rooting through garbage in nearby Rossland. – photo courtesy of Bear Aware
Castlegar can increase the cleanliness of the community, the safety of its citizens and reduce the number of bears destroyed by managing bear attractants. Some tips to remember:
- keep all garbage securely inside garages or sheds until the morning of collection day
- consider investing in a bear proof garbage bin if you cannot keep garbage indoors
- wash out garbage and recycling bins regularly to reduce smells that may attract bears
Curbside garbage inspections will continue into the summer, with Bear Aware volunteers placing bright yellow “Bear Attractant” stickers on bins left on the curb in the evening to remind residents to keep garbage inaccessible to bears. Bear Aware will also be visiting neighbourhoods with high incidences of human-bear conflicts to provide information about managing attractants and solutions to keeping bears out of town.
For more information, contact Castlegar Bear Aware Community Coordinator, Jenny Wallace at 250-365-8971 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent Bear sightings can be seen at http://www.bearaware.bc.ca/bear-sightings-new
In Castlegar, Bear Aware is supported by the: BCCF, City of Castlegar, RDCK, and Columbia Basin Trust.