A number of bear sightings have been reported throughout Fernie. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Elk Valley urged to be bear aware

Residents are reminded to keep garbage indoors and to clean up windfall from fruit trees

With hibernation season around the corner and bear activity ongoing, Elk Valley residents are reminded to protect the community from wildlife encounters by cleaning up all fruit from trees and ensuring garbage bins are left indoors prior to collection day.

With a number of bear sightings behind Max Turyk Community Centre, as well as in West Fernie and James White Park this past week, WildSafe BC Community Coordinator Kathy Murray said residents should always be prepared to encounter bears, regardless of time or location.

Murray said it was important to keep garbage bins indoors before collection.

“Bears are most active at night,” said Murray. “If you have a buffet of food laid out at night, they’re going to get into it. They’re going to remember that and keep coming back. It’s also a visual cue–bears will come and investigate, they are opportunistic feeders.”

On a garbage patrol last week, Murray said Fernie residents were doing well with only 11 residences leaving their garbage out overnight. “It is your responsibility to not attract dangerous wildlife to you property, and the end result will be a cleaner and safer community.”

The same message holds true throughout winter, when deer feed on garbage, attracting cougars into town.

As fruit trees are currently dropping fruit, Murray said it was important to clear away what could attract wildlife.

“The problem with the apple trees is that it is a consistent food source that is always there. Bears learn to feed on apple trees, the next thing you know they get into the garbage, then they’re on the back porch, pushing through the door, or a pet or child gets in the way.”

Anyone looking to report recurring issues with attractants can do so by emailing fernie@wildsafebc.com or by calling the conservation officer service. Those unable to manage fruit trees may contact 250-423-8665 for volunteer assistance.


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