Bearing down on animal conflict

Locals learn what to do to help prevent unnatural attractants which can bring bears into town.

Bearing down on animal conflict

 

Jillian Trainor

Arrow Lakes News

 

About a dozen people gathered at the Nakusp Library on Thursday, Sept. 10, to hear ways to help avoid conflict with bears during the fall season.

 

In less than two months, bears are set to go into hibernation. Because of this, they need to build up their fat layers, which will help sustain them through the winter.

 

For most bears in BC, their diet is about 80 per cent vegetation, depending on where they are. However, because of unnatural attractants like garbage, bird feeders, and fruit trees, they will occasionally wander into urban settings in search of food.

 

This can cause them to become comfortable with human presence, potentially leading them to become habituated.

 

“Through regular contact with humans, the bear learns tolerance and the bear learns to take more risks so it can continue using the food source,” said Bree Lillies, of WildSafe BC.

 

“Habituated bears often appear to be tame, allowing people to stop and take photographs of them, or watch them at close distances.”

 

Bears have a sense of personal space, which they will defend aggressively if other animals get too close. This makes a dangerous situation for both humans and animals.

 

If a bear becomes habituated in town, typically, they’re destroyed. However, this doesn’t solve the problem.

 

“Conservation officers have to respond to any kind of public safety issue, but ultimately they don’t want to be destroying bears that are coming into conflict.”

 

John Perkins and his wife, Trish, attended the meeting, and found it very instructive and informative.

 

“She confirmed that the conservation people are a little more sympathetic to the bears than they used to be,” he said.

 

“We live in the village, but we did have a bear on our deck, it was shot by the Mounties, this was about 12 years ago. It was not nice.”

 

Some ways to help keep bears out of the community include keeping your garbage secure, either stored in a secure location or in a bear-resistant container; don’t put garbage out until the day of collection; and pick fruit trees as they ripen, as well as any windfalls.

 

For more information on how to help prevent animal conflict, go to www.wildsafebc.com

 

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Bree Lillies of WildSafe BC explains some ways to prevent bears from coming into town in search of unnatural attractants.

Photo By Jillian Trainor