Bears don’t need calendars to remind them that this is the time of year to get busy looking for food ahead of hibernation.
WildSafeBC Coordinator Jenny Wallace is worried about the amount of poorly stored garbage around town. A wide range of complaints have been reported over the last two weeks, from bears getting into unlocked dumpsters to illegal dumping, and the more common issue of residential garbage being stored improperly.
“I’ve been a bit shocked this season, to be honest,” said Wallace. “In my time as the coordinator in Castlegar, I have never seen so much garbage left out totally accessible to wildlife. This past week, I had a call about garbage being dumped beside a community mailbox and I also found garbage bins that had been put on the curb for collection five days early.” Wallace suggests that if residents are going to be out of town on garbage day, they could ask a neighbour to put their garbage out for them, or simply wait until the next week rather than put their bins out so early.
Luckily, bear activity has been relatively quiet again this season, with approximately the same number of reports as this time last year (2012 was the quietest season for bear conflicts in a decade). This relative lack of bears may actually be part of the reason there is so much garbage being left unsecured, according to Wallace.
“With so little activity so far, people may not see the need for managing attractants. However, proactive attractant management is the only long term solution to human-bear conflict in Castlegar. Don’t wait until a bear gets into your garbage to consider more secure storage.” Once a bear finds food in town, it is only a matter of time before it becomes a problem. Food conditioned bears lose their natural fear of human sights and sounds and may become dangerously brazen in their search for food. These bears are often destroyed as a result of this conflict cycle.
Wallace encourages residents to do an “attractant sweep” of their properties, taking a quick look to see if there are any potential wildlife attractants that could be more securely stored.
“Now is the time to be especially vigilant with things like garbage and birdseed to ensure your property isn’t contributing to human-wildlife conflict,” said Wallace. Reports of bears getting into garbage and other attractants have been picking up in the last couple of weeks and will escalate quickly if these attractants are left accessible.
For more information on local wildlife activity, contact Jenny Wallace at 1-250-365-8971 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find updates on local wildlife activity on Facebook: WildSafeBC Castlegar.
To report a wildlife conflict, call the Conservation Officer hotline at 1-877-952-7277.