It is that time of year when all those wonderful smells around people’s homes and gardens become a recipe for human-wildlife conflict.
Flint Knibbs, a conservation officer for the Smithers area, said the best way to reduce the risk of conflict is by managing attractants.
This includes ensuring attractants, such as garbage and compost, are secured in bear-proof bins; picking excess fruit from trees and not letting windfall accumulate on the ground; removing bird feeders; and using electric fencing around livestock.
Other tips include feeding pets indoors, keeping pets inside at night and keeping barbecues clean by burning off uncooked food and emptying grease containers.
Easy access to non-natural food sources can destroy a bear’s natural behaviour. Habituated bears lose their fear of humans and develop appetites for non-natural foods putting both themselves and people at risk.
“Every year, hundreds of bears are destroyed in BC as a result of conflicts between people and bears,” states the Bear Smart Community Program website. “In rare instances, people are also injured or even killed as a result of these conflicts. Most of these problems begin when people allow bears to access non-natural food sources such as garbage.”
Knibbs said that while the Conservation Officer Service prefers to work on the basis of education, they also have the authority to issue warnings and violation tickets for improper management of attractants.
In 2019, the province instituted an audit program, which continues this year. In 2019, conservation officers conducted 704 inspections around the province resulting in 76 charges, 301 warnings and 355 Dangerous Wildlife Protection Orders (DWPO).
Under a DWPO a property owner is directed to remove an attractant. Failure to do so carries a $575 fine.