Creston Bear Aware urges safety to prevent bear encounters

Web Lead

Another summer is upon us here in the Kootenays, and with it has come the British Columbia Conservation Foundation’s (BCCF’s) Bear Aware program. Bear Aware is an educational program that aims to reduce the number of human-bear conflicts in communities through education, innovation, and cooperation.

Gillian Cooper and Logan Huscroft will be serving the residents of the Creston Valley, Yahk and Crawford Bay areas as Bear Aware community co-ordinators.

Bears are required to accumulate a large supply of fat every summer to ensure they will have enough stores to make it through their winter hibernation. Unfortunately, human foods can often be a very tempting prize for a bear intent on packing on pounds. Their natural curiosity and their remarkable determination to secure food sources can often lead them into communities in search of food.

In order to reduce the reasons a bear may have for being in a community residents need to manage attractants. An attractant is anything that a bear will sense that will entice it to come to or stay at a certain location. Common attractants for bears include garbage left outside or in unlocked sheds, birdfeeders/pet food, fruit trees, greasy barbecues, compost and livestock (especially sheep/chickens).

Remember to leave garbage inside until the day of pick-up. Exclude things such as meats and fish in your compost. Feed pets indoors or clean up any uneaten food daily after your pets are fed. Birdfeeders should be stashed away for the summer months to avoid providing bears a food source. Also, maintaining a clean grill this summer will help to ensure bears don’t catch the scent of yesterday’s hamburgers.

To ensure bears cannot access livestock or feed, it is a good idea to install bear-proof electric fencing. This is especially important for protecting chickens. Fruit trees are a major attractant in the Creston area and it is important to ensure that the fruit is picked as soon as it ripens. Consider electric fencing if bears are accessing your fruit before you can.

By removing or securing these attractants in communities, we can drastically reduce the risk of human bear conflicts. If you have any questions or concerns, please email selkirkpurcell@bearaware.bc.ca. To report wildlife conflict or bear sightings please call the Report all Poachers and Polluters line, 1-877-952-7277.

Bear Aware gratefully acknowledges the support of Columbia Basin Trust, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, BCCF and Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project.

— BEAR AWARE