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Conservation officer going door to door in Elkford and Fernie to stop residents attracting bears

Bears and other wildlife are spotted frequently in the Elk Valley. - Submitted photo
Bears and other wildlife are spotted frequently in the Elk Valley.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Conservation officers and wildlife experts will be going door to door next week, trying to get the message out about keeping bears away.

The team will be focusing on problem areas where there have been a number of complaints about people managing their garbage poorly, or attracting bears in other ways, such as having dirty barbecues, keeping pet food outdoors and leaving fruit on and under their trees.

Conservation Officer Joe Garay said he hopes the message is getting across to people, but there are still many that just don’t seem to get it.

“We have been attempting to educate people for years,” he said, “but now it seems we will need to start enforcing it.”

Conservation officers can issue tickets from a $50 bylaw violation ticket up to a $345 provincial ticket for repeat offenders.

The City of Fernie Waste Regulation bylaw 1845 states that residents are not allowed to put their garbage out before 5 a.m. on collection day.

Although there have been a number of bear sightings in the Valley already, Garay said summer is when the problem gets worse.

“We want to get out and educate people now, so they can hopefully keep bears away in summer,” he said.

“Residents aren’t always happy to see us, or willing to listen. They can get quite upset at us for asking them not to store their garbage outside. They feel like if they pay taxes, they have the right to do that. But we are hoping that they will come around.”

Garay, Kathy Murray, and other experts will be visiting residences and businesses in Elkford on Thursday from 1 to 9 p.m. and Fernie on Friday from 1 to 9 p.m.

There is a presentation by wildlife expert Kevin Van Tighem in Fernie tonight for those who want to understand bear behaviour better. Click here.

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