Bear awareness urged in fall season

It is the time of year for bears to return to the low lands and residential interface areas looking for fast ways to fatten up.

How many bears do you count? Summerland Ornamental Gardens program director

It is the time of year for bears to return to the low lands and residential interface areas looking for fast ways to fatten up for their long winter’s nap.

Bears enter a hyperphasia stage at this time which means they are ‘extra’ driven to search out high caloric and fatty meals – up to 24,000 calories a day.

People accidentally provide a feast for bears at this time of year.

If bears have access to fast food refuse packets, they are likely to return again and be less motivated to harvest their own natural food in the wilderness.

Some residents place garbage out to the curb the evening prior or a day before pick-up and many garbage cans and bags are filled with a bounty of pungent summertime leftovers.

Residential fruit trees are weighed down with overripe fruit.

Walnuts and hazelnuts are ripening, composters are brimming with vegetable trimmings and home canning flotsam and jetsam.

No habituated bear would pass up this densely packed smorgasbord.

Habituated bears are desensitized to the sights and sounds of humans, urban noises and are comfortable foraging in our backyards and neighbourhoods.

WildSafeBC urges residents to re-evaluate and modify their habits.

o Keep garbage secure and sealed tightly. Place garbage and recycling to the curb on the morning of pick up. (You can freeze smelly foodstuffs and place in garbage on garbage day). See http://www.rdos.bc.ca/departments/public-works/wildsafe-bc-bear-aware/

o Make sure your compost is working – digesting the plant material and consists of the correct ratio of browns and greens. See http://www.rdosmaps.bc.ca/min_bylaws/ES/solid_waste/Newsletters/Easy_Compost_Front.pdf

o Pick all urban fruit and nut trees as soon as possible. Keep the area clear of fallen and rotting fruits.

o Keep birdfeeders and suet cages in storage until December.

Give bears, other large wildlife or predators no reason to loiter in your neighbourhood.

Purposely feeding wildlife is an offence.

Allowing wildlife access to unnatural food sources and to hang around your property may bring harm to you and your neighbours.

Problem wildlife should be reported to the Conservation Officer Reporting Line: 1-877-952-7277

This fall, WildSafeBC volunteers will be conducting garbage audits

These audits will be conducted the evening before garbage day.

Garbage cans placed out early will be tagged with bright yellow sticker tags, photos and addresses will be noted for educational follow up.

Summerland Municipal Hall will carry information materials on all types of Wildlife, and provide timely reminders in utility mailers.