“Bears can’t change their behaviour, but you can.”
“At this time of year, you’re going to see more bear activity as they fatten up, and you’ll start to see them coming into our neighbourhoods,” says Gaylene Thorogood, Community Safety manager for the City of Port Alberni, which partnered with WildSafeBC for a summer outreach program.
That’s why it’s essential that residents take a few basic steps to remove attractants that can draw wildlife to populated settings, creating conflicts between people and bears that too often result in bears being destroyed. Typically these conflicts begin when people allow bears to access non-natural food sources such as garbage, notes WildSafeBC’s Bear Smart Community Program.
- Securing your waste is essential. Garbage should either be put out the morning of pickup and secured at other times – either inside your garage or shed, for example, or with a lock, available for free from the municipality at
250-720-2840,Thorogood notes. Reduce smells by regularly cleaning waste and recycling bins and always ensure your recyclables are clean before adding them to your bin. With WildSafe BC and Conservation Officers, the City continues to raise awareness about the importance of securing household waste, flagging incorrectly stored garbage and issuing violation tickets to those who don’t comply.
- It’s also important to manage your fruit trees. Make good use of your fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs by harvesting and using or preserving the fruit yourself, or connecting with an organization like the Alberni Valley Transition Town, whose Gleaning Project ensures ripe fruit is picked and used. The program connects tree owners with unwanted or excess fruit with volunteers who want to harvest and enjoy local fruit. One-third of harvested fruit goes to the homeowner, one-third to the volunteers, and one-third to a local charity or organization. Extra fruit unwanted by homeowners or volunteers is sold to help fund the project. Lean more at albernivalleygleaning.org. Fruit fallen to the ground should also be removed.
For more bear-smart strategies, visit portalberni.ca/bear-smart. You can also learn about handling encounters with wildlife at an Oct. 3 Bear Spray Workshop, hosted by the City of Port Alberni’s Parks and Recreation staff in partnership with WildSafe BC. The two-hour workshop teaches beginner safety tips for interacting with bears and other wildlife AND teaches participants how to use bear spray effectively and safely. For more details, call 250-723-2181.