As winter gives way to spring, the furry friends surrounding Hope are waking from their long winter’s nap.
Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee chair Lydia Koot reminds the public that the black bears throughout the Hope area are waking up and as such, residents need to be bear aware.
“(Black bears) might come and eat and go back to sleep for a couple of days, but if they find garbage right away, they just stay out because food is food,” Koot said. Mothers with new cubs this year will not be out yet, Koot added, but those with cubs last year should be coming out right about now.
Across the province, hundreds of black bears are destroyed every year due to human-wildlife conflict, according to WildSafeBC. A large majority of these conflicts don’t involve human injury or fatality, but most of them involve bears gaining access to non-natural food sources like garbage.
Food scraps, one of the top bear attractants, should be kept in the house and frozen if possible, left inside until pick-up day. Recycling should be washed as the scent of soda or beer can be a bear attractant as well.
Miscellaneous garbage should ideally be sorted out so that smelly items such as diapers are kept in a well-locked container in the house, garage or secure shed, only to be taken out on garbage day.
“Once they get food on your property, it doesn’t matter if it’s garbage or bird seed, as soon as they know there’s food, they’ll keep coming back,” Koot said. She added even one house not being bear aware can cause trouble for an entire neighbourhood.
Birdseed and pet food should not be left out as these, too, attract bears. However, for those who want to continue feeding wild birds, there should only be a handful of seed out at a time and the feeder should be hung as high as possible. Hummingbird feeders should be treated the same way.
Koot said the local garbage and green waste bins are not bear-proof. Containers should be stored in a secure place until garbage day.
Outdoor refrigerators and freezers can be easy bear attractants as well. These should be stored inside or securely chained to a concrete pad or wall with more than just a standard padlock.
Food items aside, petroleum products can bring on the bears, too. Koot recommended cleaning up stains and petroleum prodcuts like chainsaw grease.
Koot said if you see a bear in your yard, scare it away using different noises; they may get used to the sound of bear bangers, for example. Bears seen eating grass on the side of the road or in parks should be left alone.
“If they look scraggly, don’t assume the bear is sick and needs our help,” Koot added. “You would have a bar hair day after all the months of sleeping, too!”
Those with questions or concerns about bears in the area can email Koot at firstname.lastname@example.org.