The Conservation Officer Service (COS) is spearheading a Bear Attractant Management Audit in the City of Fernie on Monday, Oct 28. COS, along with WildSafe BC Coordinator Kathy Murray, Fernie Bylaw Services and Natural Resource Officers will be conducting patrols around neighbourhoods in Fernie.
The group will be going door-to-door visiting areas of high human/wildlife conflict in Fernie between 2 and 7 pm. The objective of the exercise is to educate the community about the importance of bear proofing properties and the legislations in place addressing the provision of food, by intent or neglect, to dangerous wildlife. This exercise was originally scheduled to take place in June but was postponed due to the flood.
There are a couple enforcement options for COS under the Wildlife Act. COS could issue a warning ticket or a violation ticket for $345 for attracting dangerous wildlife. An “attractant” means any food or food waste, compost or other garbage that could attract dangerous wildlife. That includes a carcass or part of a carcass of an animal or fish, or other meat. “Dangerous wildlife” means a bear, cougar, coyote or wolf.
A Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order can be issued by COS to a land owner to clean up an area within 24 hours, and if the land owner fails to comply with that order, they can be charged $575.
The City of Fernie bylaws that can be enforced with fines deal more with waste rather than duplicating the Wildlife Act.
Accumulation, placement and storage of wildlife attractants in a manner that attract wildlife can result in a $50 fine from the City. An improperly used or secured commercial waste container can result in a $100 fine as can an accumulation of garbage. Failing to place garbage in an animal proof container is a $50 fine for the first offence and $100 for a second offence. Dumping waste in other than a designated disposal area can result in $500 fine from the City as well.
COS estimated there were eight to 10 bears in the town of Fernie as of Oct. 23 and attractants are the main reason for the bears presence.
COS put down a black bear trapped in the Annex on Oct. 17 only to have two more bears move into the neighbourhood because there was a good supply of crabapples and apple trees. The same day in Hosmer, another black bear was destroyed after it had got into a freezer then attempted to break into residents’ homes.
On Oct. 22 a sow black bear and her three cubs rested all day up a fir tree in the middle of Fernie after feeding on garbage in the neighbourhood. In the dark of night, the bear family moved on to another location unharmed.
The next morning, on Oct. 23 a third black bear was euthanized after it was trapped on Dicken Road. According to COS, the bear had been ripping into storage sheds in the neighborhood.
The bottom line is a person must not intentionally feed dangerous wild life or place attractants where there are likely to be people on the land and in a manner that could attract dangerous wildlife to the land or premise.
If your property is free of attractants, offer a helping hand to your neighbor. The snow may be about to fall but the bears are not in their dens yet, especially if there is an all they can eat smorgasbord littered throughout Fernie.
For more information on how to reduce wildlife attractants, visit www.wildsafebc.com. To report all poachers and polluters, call the Conservation Officer 24 hour hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).