A bear picks apples from a tree in Silver Creek in Hope, B.C. Residents are being asked to pick their trees clean so discourage this bear and others from loading up for hibernation in town. (Lesley Talarico photo)

Hope residents urged to clean off fruit trees to save bear’s life

Bear feasting on apple trees needs to be discouraged safely, says black bear education advocate

A bear is making the rounds in a residential Hope neighbourhood, cleaning off fruit trees and berry bushes as it gets ready for hibernation.

Bears need about 20,000 calories a day and feed for 20 hours a day leading up to the winter months, says Lydia Koot, chair of the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee.

But she says the bear that has been dining in Silver Creek has a better chance of survival if people get out and remove fruit from their trees, and as soon as possible. The more used to entering residential areas a bear becomes, and the more interactions it has with humans, is just part of what will lead to its death, she warns.

Police have already visited the area in an attempt to haze the bear, by shooting rubber bullets at it to discourage it from returning. That happened Wednesday night, but the bear was back as recently as Thursday evening, Koot says.

It’s imperative for people to keep their fruit trees picked, she explains, as fruit like apples offer a sweet dessert to the nearby spawning salmon at Silverhope Creek. A lack of fruit will keep the bear out of the area, in combination with familiar bear hazing techniques like the rubber bullets and bean bags officials shoot at them, or such as residents banging pots and pans when a bear is in their yard.

“Hazing the bear makes it have the connection that being around humans is not fun,” Koot says, and beyond bruises, the pellets do not cause lasting damage to a bear.

Silver Creek residents may not be as used to bear activity as those near Kawkawa Lake and other more remote Hope neighbourhoods, Koot says. She is a go-to person for the local Conservation Officers and RCMP, to help distribute information and tips to the public. It’s been about four years since there has been steady bear activity in Silver Creek, she says.

So far, Koot says the bear is just “acting like a bear” and not digging into people’s garbage or being aggressive with humans. So it has a good chance of survival if people get rid of all attractants.

“He will not go away until the fruit is gone,” she says. She has found fresh scat that is full of both apples and berries.

But the bear is in danger, she says. The more people try to get close to it, or hang around to take photos, the more commotion will surround the bear. If there is too much bear to human interaction, officials could move and kill it, she says.

Adding to the troubles is that the fruit season ended quickly with a deluge of rain, and there are likely fewer berries in the wild for local bears to feed on.

“I want to make the people realize that it’s up to them to keep him and any other bears out there safe,” Koot says.

She knows that not everyone is able to pick their trees clean, due to a number of barriers. She operates a gleaning program and is hoping people in Silver Creek will call her.

In the meantime, she says, stay away from the bears, don’t take photos, and give them their space.

For more information, phone 604-860-4558.

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A bear eats apples from the ground below a tree in Silver Creek in Hope, B.C. Residents are being asked to pick their trees clean so discourage this bear and others from loading up for hibernation in town. (Lesley Talarico photo)

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