After a long winter, bears are roaming the valley once again. The local Conservation Officer Service has already responded to at least one call, and sightings are becoming more frequent.
“Bears have emerged from torpor and are seeking food. Some are more likely to seek out easy food sources in residential areas,” said Hana Anderson with the Bella Coola Conservation Officer Service. “Younger bears on their own for the first time are also very impressionable right now and we want to make sure they don’t see peoples yards as a place of safe shelter and food. It’s especially important for the public to ensure that attractants such as garbage, pet food, and bird seed are unavailable to bears.”
As many residents turn to planting gardens and tending to fruit trees, Anderson said this is also a good time to assess how these resources will be managed and protected.
“It’s also a good time of year to plan how you will protect your fruit tress and vegetable gardens from bears accessing them. A bear can turn over a bed of greens or carrots in minutes,” said Anderson. “No one wants to see their hard work demolished. WildsafeBC has a great website with safety tips for when you’re out enjoying the outdoors and for making your yard less attractive to bears.”
WildsafeBC says that, in order for a container to be deemed “bear resistant” it needs to be able to withstand at least an hour of manhandling by the bruins. The organization has teemed up with the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops, BC, forming a partnership known as the “BC Bear-Resistant Product Group.”
Having certified bear-resistant containers is one way to reduce access by bears to garbage and food waste. It is also a viable option for communities seeking to become Bear Smart.
Products are tested at the BC Wildlife Park to determine their resistance to the forces from either black bears or grizzly bears. The testing follows protocols similar to those established by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. If a product can withstand one hour of contact time with the specified bear species, without presenting a food reward, the product is deemed to have passed.
While products that pass testing are certified bear-resistant, this does not guarantee that a bear cannot gain access if given sufficient time. To reduce the chance of a bear accessing a food reward consider the following:
Keep your containers in a secure location such as a garage or well-constructed shed
If you do not have a garage/shed, then secure the container to a structure so that it cannot be dragged away
Freeze smelly items until collection day
Never put your container out the night before collection – wait until the morning of pick up day
For more information check out their website at wildsafebc.com