It’s that time of year again, and conservation officers are trying to get the message out early: secure potential food sources that could attract bears as they emerge from hibernation.
The Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to secure potential attractants around both homes and businesses.
“During these challenging times we cannot neglect our responsibility to protect the environment and keep out communities safe from human-wildlife conflicts,” a press release from the CSO reads. “Take responsibility and do your part to secure attractants. Do not present opportunities for bears to become habituated and or food conditioned.”
For those who must store their garbage, the CSO advises to ensure it is in a location that is both secure and inaccessible to bears, and make frequent trips to the Clearwater Eco Depot or other transfer site stations. Those relying on residential pickup services are reminded that containers and garbage bags shouldn’t be placed out the night before and to only put them out on pickup days.
Garbage isn’t the only thing that can attract bears to your property or business. Pet food, bird feeders and freezers that are left outside are examples of other attractants. It is important to clean up and remove any leftover food or bird feeders and ensure the ground underneath has been cleaned up as well as discarded shells can be an attractant for bears. The CSO recommends freezers not be left outside.
Barbecues and outdoor eating areas should be kept clean.
Now is a good time to figure out how to manage fruit trees, bee hives, chickens, livestock and livestock feed sources and keep them safe from bears. As fruit begins to ripen, ensure to remove it from the trees and bushes. Fruit that has been left to accumulate on the ground is a yummy feast for a hungry bear. The CSO also recommends to install electric fencing around fruit trees, gardens, chicken coops, bee hives, livestock and livestock feed sources.
The CSO will be conducting neighbourhood audits to ensure residents are doing their part to ensure their properties will not attract bears. During these audits, conservation officers will check for attractants such as garbage, pet food and bird feeders, and if they’ve been removed or secured. They will also inspect businesses, checking to see if dumpsters are secured.
Failing to secure attractants can result in fines, or a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order being issued under the Wildlife Act.
Violations or conflicts with wildlife can be reported to the RAPP 24-hour hotline 1-877-952-7277.