Bears pay for human mistakes: conservation office

Increased calls to conservation about bears getting into trash have Central Island conservation officer Brittany Mueller frustrated.

A bear breaks into an unsecured residential garbage bin.

Increased calls to conservation about bears getting into trash have Central Island conservation officer Brittany Mueller frustrated.

“We’re getting daily reports of bears accessing garbage,” said Mueller.

“We’re constantly educating but the residents aren’t taking action.”

Mueller said that the Port Alberni conservation office has had 81 calls in September and 62 in October as of last week.

“They’re attracted to non-natural food sources,” she said. That includes garbage, pet food and fruit left to rot on the ground.

Mueller is in part frustrated because Port Alberni is a BearSmart community—the only one on Vancouver Island and one of only six in the entire province.

It’s also a community held up as a shining example of what a BearSmart community should look like—at least on the government level.

Speaking earlier this year, BearSmart BC consulting executive director Crystal  McMillan said that the city has become “a model that’s being used province wide as an example of how to implement BearSmart measures.”

That includes bylaws, fines and information pamphlets.

“Their bylaws say how to effectively manage your garbage to reduce conflict with bears, they have put out 7,000 BearSmart brochures in utility bills, there’s BearSmart information on their website and they’ve invested $1.5 million into a bear-resistant garbage system,” said McMillan.

The city’s solid waste bylaw lists fines of $100 each for not using animal-resistant hardware on their garbage bins and for keeping waste where it is accessible to wildlife.

“Every premise is responsible to prevent animals from accessing the garbage through proper management of the garbage and the container,” the bylaw reads.

“The city of Port Alberni provides animal resistant hardware for standard containers where requested by the residents for situations where animals are a nuisance.”

Provincial penalties are much harsher, said Mueller, adding that a fine of up $50,000 can be imposed for the “attraction of wildlife.”

The city’s bear-resistant bins are available from the public works yard and cost the same amount as the regular ones. If you already have a garbage bin, the city will install bear locks (pictured below) free of charge. The number to call is 250-720-2840.

According to Port Alberni’s BearSmart liaison Guy Cicon, the city ordered 3,542 unit of the bear resistant hardware several years ago and is still working off of that supply.

However, getting people to keep their bins locked until collection time is a challenge.

“Garbage needs to be secured at all times till the morning of garbage collection,” she said. City bylaws are less strict here; they simply state that the bear locks must be unlatched by 7 a.m. on collection day and re-latched within 12 hours.

On the upside, Mueller said that calls for the bear-resistant bins have increased lately.

“Now there’s a bit of a wait list,” Mueller said.

But there’s still no excuse not to make that call, Mueller said.

“Just because you’ve lived in Port Alberni for 10, 20 years and never had an issue isn’t a reason not to do your part,” she said.

When bears become food conditioned, there aren’t many option left for conservation officers.

According to the Ministry of Environment “translocation (or relocating the bear) is rarely successful as often these bears return to their original home territory or they become ‘problem’ bears in other communities.”

There’s also not enough suitable territory for bears to be relocated to—leading them to die either of starvation or of other bears’ attacks.

That, Mueller said, is why prevention is key.

“Otherwise, bears pay with their lives for human mistakes.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Port Alberni millwright brings Beatles’ iconic yellow submarine to life for ice show

Beatlemania is set to take the ice on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Alberni Valley Multiplex

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Battle of the Bands winner set to perform at Char’s Landing

Sean Lyons is a singer-songwriter originally from Port Alberni

Port Alberni sends large contingent of athletes to Special Olympics Winter Games

Veteran curler Simone Myers dreams of gold in her seventh provincials

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

B.C. child killer denied mandatory outings from psychiatric hospital

The B.C. Review Board decision kept things status quo for Allan Schoenborn

Searchers return to avalanche-prone peak in Vancouver to look for snowshoer

North Shore Rescue, Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog teams and personnel will be on Mt. Seymour

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

B.C. pot giant Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Most Read