Following numerous reports of bear sightings in Kimberley and Cranbrook, WildSafeBC is reminding the public that leaving out attractants which can draw in bears and other dangerous animals may lead to fines or the animal being destroyed.
According to the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to intentionally feed a dangerous animal, or leave attractants out with the intent of feeding them, the law also prohibits people from leaving attractants out where they may be accessible to dangerous animals.
“It’s not to say that the bears are dangerous, but there’s potential for it. That’s because bears are very smart, and they can actually memory map an area. They’ll remember where they got that food from the year prior, and they can become habituated and comfortable with people and they can become aggressive,” said Danica Roussy, community coordinator with WildSafeBC.
In the event that a bear or other wild animal becomes comfortable around people, it may need to be killed by conservation officers.
“Once a bear becomes habituated, it becomes a problem bear, you could say. That’s when the COs will step in and the bear can potentially become destroyed. A lot of people want us to remove the bear, but sometimes that doesn’t work because that bear will become a problem in another community,” said Roussy. “It starts with us, we live in bear country, the bears have been here forever, so it’s just managing your attractants.”
If a bear is reported in an urban environment, WildSafeBC will investigate and educate the public in the area.
“I’ll go around and do an attractant audit in that neighbourhood and work with community members to eliminate as much as possible. Bears will still feed on grass and gardens and apple drees, buts it’s just about how we manage it,” explained Roussy.
WildSafeBC offers a series of tips and advice to manage attractants to avoid run-ins with wild animals in urban environments.
- Keep garbage indoors or in a bear-proof bin.
- Managing fruit trees by harvesting when the fruit is ripe and clean up any that fall to the ground
- Remove bird feeders between April and November.
- Feed pets indoors.
- Maintain compost so that it does not smell and add fruit slowly. Never add meat or other animal products.
- Protect orchards, beehives, and small livestock with a well-maintained electric fence.
- Do not intentionally feed wildlife.
- Keep barbecues clean and odour-free.
Roussy said that fines up to $345 may be imposed if people are found to be feeding wildlife and attracting dangerous animals. However, Roussy added that fines are not the goal, as both WildSafe and COs want to keep communities and wildlife safe.
“We don’t want to fine you, we want to work with you and that’s where WildSafeBC comes in. It’s vital that they do not have access to unnatural food sources. That way they can move on past the neighbourhood,” said Roussy.
If a bear or other dangerous animal visits your home, Roussy recommends that you stay inside, call the conservation officer’s RAPP line and find and remove what may have attracted the animal after it leaves.