A wildlife conservation program’s Shuswap branch is urging bear awareness going into fall.
WildSafe BC Columbia Shuswap’s coordinator, Olivia Lemke, shared information about being bear aware as the animals become more active preparing for winter hibernation.
One of the most important things residents of Salmon Arm and other Shuswap communities can do to deter bear activity in their areas is to avoid leaving garbage and compost waste outdoors before collection.
As per the City of Salmon Arm Bylaw 4281, bins and garbage bags are not to put out on the curb the night before pickup, and should be placed outside by 7 a.m. the day of collection.
Lemke said a ratchet strap can be used to secure the lid of a bin if indoor storage isn’t possible, and the bin should also be secured to a solid structure like a concrete post or fencing. Bear-resistant containers are also available.
Attractive or odorous items like meat scraps and food leftovers should be frozen until collection, said Lemke.
Pets should be fed indoors and livestock feed should be stored inside as well, in a secure container.
Keep barbecues clean by burning off old food and scraping metal, as well as cleaning the grease trap.
It is not advised to use bird feeders at this time, until winter, and bird baths or flowers are a better alternative. Berries and fruit should be harvested before ripening and falling off branches.
Lemke said to check local bylaws and see if electric fencing can be installed to protect fruit and vegetable gardens, beehives, chicken coops and other small livestock.
WildSafe BC notes bears have excellent memory of where food sources are in a neighbourhood and return to the same places each year.
Report sightings and conflicts with bears to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 proactively before a bear becomes food-conditioned and recognizes a neighbourhood as a foraging habitat.
The reports help inform WildSafe BC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program, which collects data used to prioritize education and outreach.
Lemke shared outdoor safety precautions to take, including to watch for signs of bears like scat, tracks and claw or bite marks, obey signage, travel in groups and make noise as you move along trails and keep dogs on leash.
Keep bear spray handy and learn how to use it safely with WildSafe BC’s online course about recreation.
Contact Olivia Lemke for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 263-233-3651.