Back for another season, WildSafeBC said they will be changing their approach in Kimberley this year and giving limited grace to repeat offenders that are continuing to leave out bear attractants.
Danica Roussy is returning as the WildSafeBC Community Coordinator for Kimberley and Cranbrook for the season, which runs until the end of October. She told MyEastKootenayNow.com that she will continue to work with local bylaw officers and the BC Conservation Officer Service.
“If you did get a warning or even a ticket or a fine last year, you will not be getting a warning this year, you are getting a ticket from the bylaw officer, and that’s $75,” said Roussy. “If you, again, leave your attractants out that can be a fine from the Conservation Officer Service, anywhere between $125 to $350.”
Roussy said the most problematic areas for bears attractants in Kimberley have been along Swan Avenue and Wallinger Avenue near Fas Gas, which also includes Wallinger’s back alley.
“These are where the repeat offenders are and I just want to let the community know that I will be going out garbage tagging as well as door-to-door canvassing, particularly targeting those people. There have been bears in the area and this is an issue because they should not be coming to the exact same places they were last year because we should not be leaving those attractants out.”
Already this year, Roussy has said some bears have been seen in Kimberley getting into attractants, such as barbecues.
“Bears were up a little bit earlier this spring, so a couple of residents didn’t even think twice because there was still snow on the ground. Bears don’t always hibernate 100% throughout the winter and so just be mindful of that,” said Roussy.
“We want to be proactive this year, we do not want a fed bear because a fed bear is a dead bear.”
WildSafeBC has made it clear through their wildlife education campaigns that bears habituate to human food and can travel vast distances to return to where they last got a meal. When it comes to humans leaving out bear attractants, the bears can then repeatedly return to the same location year over year.
Roussy said that while bears have already been seen in Kimberley, there have been no reported bear incidents in Cranbrook so far. However, she said the public should be extra mindful this season of running into bears either near the College of the Rockies campus, in the Cranbrook Community Forest, near Eager Hill, or the Cranbrook Golf Club.
“Take care of your compost, make sure you’re managing your bird feeders, and always keep your pet food indoors overnight, in particular. If you’re going to feed your pet outside, feed them, watch them eat, and then bring the dish in when they’re done because that is also an attractant.”