A mom and baby bear spotted along Kettle Valley Road in Hope has a local organization calling for people to remove attractants from outside their homes to keep the pair safe. (Facebook/Tina Hainz photo)

A mom and baby bear spotted along Kettle Valley Road in Hope has a local organization calling for people to remove attractants from outside their homes to keep the pair safe. (Facebook/Tina Hainz photo)

Mother bear and cub spotted in Hope neighbourhood

Black bear committee urges people to keep garbage, attractants indoors to keep bears safe

Keep your garbage and other attractants inside, a local organization is urging Hope residents, after a mama bear and her cub were spotted in the community.

The Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee urged people in the area of Kawkawa Lake and Sucker’s Creek to keep their yards clear of bear attractants over the next two weeks in order to keep the pair safe. The bears are cruising around the area to find fish, the committee stated in a Dec. 6 Facebook post, a natural food they use to fatten up before going into hibernation.

“If we now allow her access to garbage, she might not go to sleep and we all know what happens then,” the committee stated. Lydia Koot, who heads up the committee, told the Hope Standard earlier this year that bears that begin to feed on attractants left out by humans almost always end up being euthanized.

Bears that have found attractants at a specific home will come back there, even being so bright as to know which day is garbage day on certain roads Koot said. And if a mother bear feeds on garbage before going into hibernation, it’s likely she will return there with her cubs. “So the problem with garbage bears becomes bigger and bigger,” Koot said.

And relocating bears, while often done by conservation officers when a bear gets too close to human settlement areas, doesn’t always work Koot said. Bears don’t know where to find food and are afraid of bigger bears in the area, who sometimes fight and kill the new bear. “They know where to get food where they were relocated from, so they just come back if they are not killed in the new place,” Koot said.

And even with the worst outcome of euthanization, Koot said this doesn’t solve the problem. Bears are territorial, so when a bear is killed, the territory is free for another bear to move in which usually happens fairly quickly. And if the attractants are still there, the new bear will get into the same problems and the “vicious circle keeps continuing.”

“The only ones who can break the circle is us by not having garbage and bird feeders and fruit trees, those are the three main attractants right now.”

A bear was euthanized in Chilliwack this October after feeding on birdfeeders and other attractants in residential areas near the Vedder River. The bear had been relocated yet returned to the area and fed on among other things bird feeders, which were left out despite calls by conservation officers earlier in the month to take birdfeeders inside until winter.

At the time, Koot did not mince words around where the responsibility for the death of that bear lay – “Some people who still keep hanging up their birdfeeders, they are the ones who kill the bear,” she said, calling for steep fines for those who continue to flout advice from the conservation officer service. She also asked people to speak with their neighbours if they notice anything that could attract a bear, and if this doesn’t work to call bylaw enforcement.

“We need to do our part and keep them safe, by locking our garbage up and not adding kitchen waste to our green bins before the morning of pick up,” the committee stated. “Make sure your recycling is clean too, like your pop or beer cans.”

To keep the bears safe, people should also wait to put up birdfeeders until the snow falls and birds need help. As well, people are being urged to pick apples still left on their trees as even frozen apples will attract bears.

“Do your part to keep them safe,” the committee urged.

Read more: ‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

Tips to avoid attracting bears to residential areas (from Don Stahl, Conservation Officer Service)

• Secure your garbage and green bin in a shed or garage, and do not put it out on collection day the night before

• If you have a bird feeder, especially if you are in a rural area, take them inside and put them out in winter when bears are hibernating.

• If you have fruit trees, be sure to pick all the fruit and do not let fruit lie on the ground.

• If a bear does come on your property, bang pots and pans together to scare it away. If there is a lot of food around, they will likely come back in which case you can use an airhorn or bear bangers available at sporting good stores. (If you use bear bangers, alert the RCMP non-emergency line so it is not mistaken for firearms.)

– with files from Paul Henderson

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