Living with Bears and Coping with Conflict
We all know that people and bears are incompatible in our towns and understand that bears are easily attracted to food sources. Therefore, we need to take some very basic steps to prevent the bears from being drawn into conflict with us.
While we cannot prevent all conflict, there is a lot of room for improvement!
Bear Aware is about finding ways to making everyone safer in our communities. We can do better job of managing the things that attract bears, like garbage, fruit trees, compost and bird feeders, to name just a few. With an open mind and a little effort we can make our communities much more bear-resistant. All we need to do is to ensure that bears are not rewarded for boldly foraging in our neighbourhoods.
The Solution is Prevention
On average 500 black bears and 40 grizzlies are killed every year in BC. Most of these deaths are preventable. Bears are always seeking food and our communities provide them with good foraging opportunities. Bears can smell garbage and rotting fruit from kilometres away. Furthermore bears learn quickly, and remember where they have found food in the past. Once a bear is "rewarded" for coming into town it will return. They become accustomed to the presence of humans ("habituated") and "food conditioned" to eating garbage, fruit, pet food, bird seed, compost and other attractants. The more often they return, the more bold they become.
Other than education, Bear Aware does not employ the use of any other tools to manage bears; however, Bear Aware does work closely with municipalities, local authorities including the Conservation Officer Service and local biologists who may employ some of the methods that follow.
Regulations To Reduce Bear-Human Conflict
There are a variety of legal tools, such as bylaws and provincial regulations that can be employed to help prevent the attraction of bears into our communities. There may be legal action taken against individuals who continue to make attractants available to bears.
Feeding Dangerous Wildlife
Wildlife Act: Section 33.1 of the Wildlife Act prohibits feeding or attracting dangerous wildlife. Under the Act, a Conservation Officer can, upon reasonable grounds, search private property and issue a fine for intentional feeding.
Dangerous Wildlife Protection Orders
Under section 88.1 of the Wildlife Act, Conservation Officers can also present and enforce a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order. For instance, issuing such an order requires the recipient to clean up bear attractants within a set amount of time. If the terms of the order are not met, then the recipient may be taken to court and face a fine.
Bylaws are created by municipal governments (cities, towns and municipalities) and are enforced by municipal enforcement (bylaw) officers. Violating a bylaw usually results in paying a fine. Bear attractant bylaws often restrict the presence of garbage on the curb until the morning of garbage collection. Such bylaws may also restrict the feeding of birds, composting, and the presence of fruit trees.
The Bear Smart Initiative includes the establishment of a bear attractant bylaw as a criteria for becoming a Bear Smart Community. Communities that can demonstrate that they have dealt with the management of bear attractants without a bylaw may also be considered for Bear Smart status.