Bears will travel great distances searching for food and, like people, they will choose the path of least resistance, our trails and roads. A grizzly bear and two cubs were seen by the adaptive trail in Montane, the junction of Montane Parkway and Whitetail Drive and Cokato Road and Mount McLean last week. Two other individual grizzly bears were reported on Highline Drive and Boomerang Way at Fernie Alpine Resort and on the trail between Highway 3 and the Cedars which leads to the popular Mount Fernie Provincial Park. We have chosen to live in grizzly bear habitat. Be prepared and expect to encounter bears anytime.
Spring is the best opportunity to help keep wildlife wild and people safe. Bears have emerged from dens and are moving to valley bottoms to feed on greenery. Bears will travel great distances looking for food and are frequently drawn into residential neighborhoods by the promise of garbage and other attractants such as bird seed, pet food, compost and fruit trees. We ask everyone to bring bird feeders, also known as “bear feeders” inside during bear season (April until November) when birds have plenty of wild food sources and feeders can easily attract bears and other wildlife right into your yard or on to your deck.
Why do bears go for bird feeders? One pound of birdseed contains approximately 1,700 calories and the average bird feeder will hold up to six pounds of bird seed. A hungry bear is biologically programmed to pack in as many calories as possible. It takes a bear many hours of foraging on natural foods to get the 12,000 plus calories it can down in five minutes at a bird feeder.
As residents in wildlife habitat it is our responsibility to prevent conflict between people, bears and other wildlife. It is much easier to keep human food and other attractants away from wildlife, than it is to teach bears, cougars, deer, skunks and rodents to stay away from unnatural food, such as garbage and bird seed that they have learned to enjoy.
Keeping garbage stored indoors until collection day and securing wildlife attractants is the best way to keep people safe, prevent property damage, and avoid the unnecessary killing of bears that come into conflict with people. It is everyone’s responsibility in B.C. to prevent dangerous wildlife from accessing unnatural food on their property (BC Wildlife Act, Section 33.1). A resident at Fernie Alpine Resort was issued a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order (DWPO) by the Conservation Officer Service. Their bird feeders had been attracting a grizzly bear to the neighbourhood. Failure to clean up bird feeders or any other bear attractant can result in a hefty fine.
We live in wildlife habitat. Be aware of your surroundings and respectful of the environment. If you have observed dangerous wildlife accessing garbage or other human supplied food sources, a bear, cougar or wolf seen in an urban area, call the Conservation Officer Service 24 hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277. This allows officers to identify current hot spot locations and work with both residents and wildlife to encourage use of natural habitats and food sources before wildlife becomes habituated and/or a safety concern.
For more information on keeping communities’ safe and wildlife wild please visit Wildsafebc.com, or follow us on Facebook at WildSafeBC Elk Valley.