Bears are rising from winter rest and exploring their communities and that means it’s time for humans to make sure we’re not putting out dinner bells for our waking neighbours.
The BC Bear Alliance, a collective of non-profits and charities working together to advocate on behalf of bears, is asking media partners and residents to help spread the message that it’s everyone’s responsibility to be bear smart.
“Attractants are the root of most negative encounters between humans and black bears,” says Lesley Fox, Executive Director of The Fur-Bearers, a member group of the BC Bear Alliance. “By directly addressing these issues in our neighbourhoods and communities, we can quickly reduce the often deadly outcomes that bears face for accessing human-created attractants.”
Attractants like bird feeders, dirty barbecues and unsecure trash are beacons for animals like black bears. ‘A fed bear is a dead bear’ remains an unfortunate truth in British Columbia.
The BC Conservation Officer Service, who respond to reports of negative encounters with some wildlife, killed 524 black bears in their last reporting year. Statistics for their fiscal year, ending this week, are only complete through January 2022, but they report 495 black bears killed by officers. This does not include bears killed by legal or illegal hunting, road collisions and other causes of mortality.
“A few minutes spent around your property looking for key attractants is all that’s needed of most residents to have a very positive impact on black bears in your area,” says Sylvia Dolson, Executive Director of the Get Bear Smart Society, a member group of the BC Bear Alliance. “Taking down a bird feeder, keeping pet food indoors, and securing our trash appropriately are steps we can all take to help our communities be bear smart.”
The Get Bear Smart Society also recently released a free wildlife bylaw toolkit that helps municipalities develop and implement bylaws surrounding feeding of wildlife and attractant management.