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Bears killed in all three Elk Valley communities

Numbers are not as high as last year, but Sparwood and Elkford are hot-spots in 2022
A black bear and her cub near Fernie in 2020. Photo: Scott Tibballs

It’s the season for the valley’s bears to be chowing down on as much food as possible ahead of winter, and according to the local Conservation Officers, plenty of those bears have been roaming into communities and getting killed due to habituation.

“Currently there are black bears roaming through every community in the East Kootenay’s,” said Elk Valley area conservation office (CO) Patricia Burley.

Burley reported that conservation officers had been forced to euthanize a number of bears in all three communities in the Elk Valley so far in 2022, but numbers were not as high as 2021 at this time. Exact numbers are not yet available.

Last year, a total of 31 bears were euthanized in the Elk Valley in what was a horror year for bear encounters.

Elkford, notably, saw no bears destroyed that year.

Burley said that this fall, Elkford and Sparwood had been hot-spots with bears getting into garbage bins in those communities as early as July.

“Unfortunately, they are getting into people’s attractants such as bird seed, apple/pear trees, garbage in non-bear resistant bins and garbage dumpsters that are not being secured properly or locked.”

She said that local conservation officers were responding to the highest priority complaints, which involve property damage and safety risk to the community.

Burley said that they’d be issuing violation tickets to people and businesses they found to have unsecured attractants, as it is a violation under the BC Wildlife Act to have attractants that would bring dangerous wildlife into a built-up area.

“It is expected that the public and businesses secure (locked up) or store garbage in an enclosed garage or locked storage shed,” she said, adding that those without garages and sheds either store their garbage inside until collection day, or put it in a community garbage bin.

“We feel like a broken record, (but) please do not have bird feed out and pick your fruit trees. If you are not able to pick your fruit tree’s there is a fruit tree replacement program through the Wildsafe Program.”

Burley said that in 2022, the Elk Valley had had several reports of bears breaking into more than just sheds.

“We have had bears break into several homes this year,” she said.

“Be diligent with your attractants and keep sliding doors, low windows shut. During the fall expect to encounter a bear at any time of day or night anywhere in town. Parents should be walking with their children to the school bus or to school, kids should walk in groups. We want people to be as safe and as prepared as they can be for a bear encounter in town.”

Reports of any dangerous wildlife can be made to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

READ MORE: A tough year for bears in the Elk Valley: Dozens euthanized, more killed in collisions
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