Conservation Officer Service (COS) is asking people to be careful and keep their eyes open for bears in town today. A sow black bear and her three cubs of the year are currently resting in the shady limbs a fir tree in the alley between 4th and 5th Avenue and 10th and 11th Street. COS would like people to avoid the area for safety reasons.
“It’s not likely they’ll come down in the daylight,” said Conservation Officer Frank DeBoon. “But when they do come down, we will try to follow them to move them out of town.”
COS was called at 3 am this morning about bears eating garbage in the neighbourhood. The bears went up the tree before daylight. WildSafeBC found garbage strewn around 5th Avenue.
If the bears linger, COS will likely have to destroy them.
“They have been in town for three weeks,” said DeBoon. “They started out on the fringes of town attracted by garbage and fruit trees. They started in Ridgemont, were in the Airport and the Annex. They have become bolder and more conditioned. Now they are in the middle of town close to schools. There could be preschoolers playing in backyards.”
“Trapping is not really an option in a town setting due to lack of cover. If we trap one cub but not the sow, there is potential for a very upset sow, which could make things worse,” said DeBoon. “Tranquilizing is not really an option either as the bears can fall asleep intertwined in the branches or they could fall from the tree and be injured. If they come down during the day, they will run into people.”
Sadly, this story is not unique. COS destroyed a single female black bear caught in a trap in the Annex last Thursday, Oct. 17. On the same day in Hosmer, a black bear was also destroyed, after it had gotten into a freezer and was trying to get into residents homes.
“It’s an offense to provide food to a wild animal, intentional or not, and a fine can be imposed,” said Kathy Murray from WildSafeBC. “Empty garbage cans are a visual cue for bears to investigate plus the bin still smells. Store your full and empty garbage cans and coolers inside your home or garage.”
If you have a small home or don’t have a garage, the transfer station is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday and 10 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday.
It’s a big responsibility to own a fruit tree. All of the fruit must be removed from the trees and ground. Wildsight has an apple press people can use for a small fee and apple tree owners can have a supply of their own apple juice.
Both DeBoon and Murray commented that one of the worst places they have seen for garbage is Slalom Drive off Castle Mtn. Road where “it seemed like every second house had a garbage can outside or garbage had been strewn around by bears.”
“People are afraid to call COS when they see a bear because they think it will be destroyed,” said DeBoon. “But the sooner we know about a bear, the sooner we can try to deter it from moving closer into town and prevent it from becoming more conditioned.”
COS currently has a bear trap placed on Dicken Road and another on Canyon Trails in the Parkland Terrace area.
If you see any wildlife in town, please report it to the RAPP hotline 1-877-952-RAPP (7277) 24 hours.