Every year we see a bear or two roam through our yard and then we don’t see any again.
However, this late summer and into early fall, we have seen numerous bears. I went for a drive the other evening at dusk and lost count at how many I saw. Coming around the first corner on a street in my neighbourhood that is just slightly out of town, I had to stop and let a mama bear cross the road. Out behind her came three little cubs. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen triplets before. It was so cute watching them stumble behind her. Then, not even a block away, I saw another bear. And another.
As amazing as it is to watch these big, beautiful creatures in nature, it is also a little unsettling having them so close to my yard where my kids and dog play. And in our neighbourhood where we walk to the bus stop twice a day. I have to tell my children to stay close to the house and keep my dog on a leash. But I know this is only temporary. Soon the bears will hibernate and hopefully most of them make it and don’t become problem bears.
The Conservation Officer Service had a significantly higher number of calls for black bears in the Smithers area so far this year, compared to the same time last year.
Some experts say this summer’s wildfires are pushing bears out of their usual habitat into towns and cities. It also didn’t help that the winter snow and ice conditions, coupled with the pace of the spring freshet, caused the ground to be drier than usual once the runoff occurred.And then there was precious little rain to nourish the flora of the wilderness, and sun-blocking smoke to disrupt the usual growth of just about everything edible out in the fields and forests— leaving bears with less to eat in nature than previous years.
We can help those bears survive this tough summer by following a few tips from the Conservation Officer Service.
The first and easiest thing to do, is not to store garbage outdoors. Garbage can be kept inside a garage or shed if it’s bear proof. Odorous garbage can be kept inside a plastic bag and frozen until garbage day.
Another tip is to remove all fruit from the trees in your yard. Fruit can be stored indoors while it ripens. Let friends or neighbours pick your fruit if you are not going to use it. Determine if the fruit trees are necessary or if they are still wanted, if they aren’t, replace trees with non-fruit bearing species.
Also, birdseed or suet filled bird feeders will attract bears through the odours they emit. Birdseed and suet are high protein food source for bears. Use bird feeders only in the winter when bears are hibernating, and natural bird food is limited.
Bears will be around for a while yet, with most of them going into hibernation in mid to late November. So let’s give them space and keep our yards clean. It is a small price to pay to live where we do.
With files from Frank Peebles