There’s bears in our town!

Bears in the town of Revelstoke BC – nine of them, in fact, had to be destroyed by conservation officers during a 3-day period recently. All because the residents of the mountain community didn’t pay much attention, if any at all, to the warnings and the suggested precautions needed to minimize the presence of bears.

No conservation officer likes to shoot even one animal and to have to destroy nine – unbelievable! You can read more about the tragic end to these bears in the town of Revelstoke here.

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Photo: Bonnie-Lou Ferris – Click to view larger image

You can help ensure that bears in town are kept to a bare (no pun intended) minimum – no bears at all would be even better. Just by changing a few habits, you can have a big impact on bear-human conflicts within our communities.

In the summer, crowds of visitors come to the valley for their annual vacations. With all the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget that we are still sharing our living space with wildlife.

The abundant wildlife here is one of the reasons people say they love coming to the valley but we need to be mindful of the fact that even though they are cute and always fascinating, wild animals are, after all – wild animals!

When animals, bears in particular, are drawn into town, they themselves are often seen as the problem, when in fact, it’s the actions of humans that attract them to begin with.

Whether you live here full-time, or come to visit, it’s crucial to follow some simple steps in order to avoid having conflicts with bears in town. It’s not so difficult to do. First, become informed. There is lots of good information at Bear Aware BC. You’ll find tips for visitors and residents and they also offer community programs to help spread the word.

It should be no surprise about what attracts bears: food. Whether it’s garbage, compost, or BBQ grease, if you leave it around, they will come! Think your garbage doesn’t smell? Think again. Perhaps you don’t smell it but bears can and will be in your backyard or on your deck before you know it.

Things you can do to prevent bear problems in your town

Here are some things you can, and should, do in order to deter bear activity in your area:

Garbage

  • Use a bear-resistant container for garbage, or store indoors, if possible, until the morning of garbage pick-up day.
  • Freeze particularly stinky garbage.
  • Clean your garbage bins regularly.

Compost

Composting is a great way to not only reduce garbage going to the landfill, but also to reduce garbage that might attract bears

  • Use things like fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps, grass clippings, branches, leaves, and washed egg shells.
  • Don’t use meat or dairy products, grease or cooked food.
  • Make layers of greens and browns.
  • Layer some branches on the bottom so oxygen can get to the material. Turn regularly.

Fruit Trees & Bushes

  • Pick fruit as it ripens — don’t allow it to fall from the tree and accumulate on the ground, regardless of whether you plan to eat the fruit or not.

Barbecues

  • Burn off the entire grill after every use.
  • Wash out the grease trap after every use.
  • Store barbecues inside your garage, or cover them.

Bird feeders

  • Bears hibernate in the winter, and since food is scarce for birds, feeders are generally safe during the cold months. There are exceptions, though. A bear may come out of hibernation during a particularly warm spell, then return when the warm period is over. It doesn’t happen often but bear sightings have been reported from time to time in the middle of winter. And if a bear happens to be making its way through your neighborhood in search of food and your bird feeder tray is handy, it will get to the birdseed.

Conflict and confrontation between humans and bears in town can be substantially decreased if we all do our part. Please be smart and responsible, for the sake of our bears. You can help the bears so we can all enjoy them!

Thanks to Bonnie-Lou Ferris for the great bear photos! Visit her website here for more awesome photos of nature and wildlife in the Columbia Valley!

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