In an effort to reduce problem bear conflict with humans, the Conservation Officer Service (COS), Ministry of Lands, Forest and Natural Resource Operations Natural Resource Officers (NRO), Bear Aware and Wildlife Aware Personnel have partnered together to initiate a preventative approach to limit the main source of human/bear conflicts: waste attractants. It is hoped that this initiative will reduce the situations where bear and human interact and, thereby, will increase the safety for both people and bears.
During the end of May 2012, the groups visited Fernie and Kimberley to identify locations where large quantities of waste attractants would normally be stored or contained (i.e waste bins associated to restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, schools and multiple resident dwellings.)
Education was provided to businesses and residents where bears are presently roaming the areas and where attractants were in plain sight. New legislation from the Wildlife Act was also being promoted. Historically, the COs had to prove the intent of the resident or business for leaving out attractants for bears that were historically/presently in the area. Currently, if a person or business is attracting dangerous wildlife to the land or premises or if the attractant is accessible to dangerous wildlife, it is an offence. It is up to the discretion of the officer to issue a violation ticket for $230, a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order (DWPO), advisory letter or a notice for a court appearance. A Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order (DWPO), pursuant to the Wildlife Act will be issued, requiring the person/company responsible to take necessary action described to mitigate the attractant issue. When a DWPO is issued, a follow-up inspection immediately occurs to ensure the DWPO has been complied with. If a DWPO is not complied with, further enforcement action will likely occur which could include a ticket or charge being issued to the responsible person for $575.
Throughout the summer and fall, Bear Aware and Wildlife Aware will continue to patrol the different communities to provide the education and awareness on bear attractant issues. COs and NROs are available to provide enforcement towards the businesses or residents that have been repeatedly told to put away their attractants and who are not complying with the Wildlife Act Regulations. NROs could be called upon by the COS during the busy bear season where they will be visiting the receptacles and inspect for evidence indicating that the attractant can bring dangerous wildlife into the location or where bears have been visiting or utilizing the waste found within. In addition to conducting the inspections the COs or NROs personnel may also provide Bear Smart education/information on how to reduce/prevent such occurrences.
Residents are encouraged to prevent human-bear conflicts by adopting the following practices:
· Keep garbage secured in a bear-resistant container or in the house, garage or shed until pick-up day and return the containers to the secure site once they are emptied.
· Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily and remove any unused fruit trees.
· Use bird feeders only in winter.
· Keep the ground free of seeds and nuts.
· Clean the barbecue grill after each use, and store it in a secure area.
· Bring pet food dishes inside and store the pet food inside.
· Do not add meat products or uncooked food to compost. Turn it regularly and keep it covered.
· If residents spot a bear, they are advised to remain calm, keep away from the bear and bring children and pets indoors, if possible.
· People should never approach a bear and should not run from it, as bears can move very quickly.
· Once a bear has left the area, residents should check their yards to ensure no attractants are available.