Ripe fruit is a delectable meal for black bears, but the presence of fruit trees can lure bears closer to people – and lead to negative encounters. The Alberta town of Canmore is tackling this issue head on by offering to cover the costs of fruit tree removal for residents.
A short 25 km from Banff National Park, Canmore is aiming to reduce the number of negative encounters between black bears and people (which can frequently end with the death of black bears) by managing two common attractants: berry bushes and fruit trees. As reported by CTV Calgary, the program isn’t new, though it appears more residents are getting on board this year.
Canmore’s website notes that any individual who own a home or property located within the town are eligible for 100% of the pre-tax cost of removal of fruit tree(s) or bush(es) by an arborist or tree removal service up to $500 per property, on a first-come, first-serve basis. The page also indicates that it’s illegal to let fruit or berries accumulate on trees, bushes, or the ground, and planting new fruit-bearing trees or bushes in yards is also prohibited. Fines for these can range between $250 to $10,000.
The town has also made it illegal to use bird feeders during bear season (April 1 to November 30). If bird feeders are to be used outside of this season, they should be suspended to a height at which other animals cannot reach, and any spilled seed be cleaned daily.
The Fur-Bearers encourage native planting to benefit wildlife and ecosystems; however, berry and fruit bushes can not only attract black bears into urban areas but encourage them to keep returning. It is when bears (and other wildlife) begin relying on humans or human places for food sources that negative encounters occur, with significant consequences for wildlife and people alike.
More information on the Canmore fruit tree program can be found at canmore.ca. The Fur-Bearers congratulate the Town on prioritizing coexistence through this program.