In an effort to reduce animal attractants, the city of Fernie has started removing poorly maintained fruit trees on public lands.
City officials said the Elk Valley and surrounding areas have the highest number of human conflicts with grizzly bears in all of B.C.
They note that Fernie was a particular hot spot for run-ins with wildlife.
“Last year , 12 black bears and two grizzly bears were put down in the Fernie area due to conflicts with people,” said city officials. “Removing fruit trees, particularly from our populated areas, is an important step we need to take in improving how we manage human-wildlife interactions.”
Staff have already begun removing the trees so stumps and roots can be removed next spring.
Officials said they will be replaced with non-fruit-bearing trees.
“Wildlife that learn where they can access these foods are likely to return as harvest time approaches,” said staff. “We often plant fruit trees close to our homes for us to enjoy but this can also draw bears into our community and puts others at risk of a dangerous wildlife encounter. Once the harvest wanes, a food-conditioned and human-habituated bear may turn to other sources of food nearby such as garbage.”
WildSafeBC also leads a subsidy program that allows Elk Valley residents to remove fruit trees that are no longer maintained.
More details can be found below.
More: WildSafeBC info page