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Wildlife officer offers tips to reduce animal conflicts

Warmer weather means bears and cougars are becoming more active and trying to fatten up after the lean winter season.

In urban areas property owners need to secure garbage and green recycling bins and empty bird feeders to prevent wildlife/human encounters that often result in animals being euthanized.

“Don’t put out anything a bear will eat, which is pretty much everything,” Stuart Bates, Nanaimo-based conservation officer. “This time of year, after garbage and those green compost bins, bird seed’s probably the biggest attractant for bears.”

Conservation officers can issue a $230 ticket to residents who do not secure attractants. People who leave out food to attract dangerous wildlife can also be issued a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order plus a $575 fine for failing to comply with the order.

Bears naturally feed on skunk cabbage, clover, dandelions and grasses, but pet food and bird seed offer easy pickings of protein and calories bears crave after denning up for the winter. What attracts bears attracts racoons, which in turn are food for cougars.

People must also lock green recycling bins in garages or sheds.

“The bears just literally pick them up, carry them off into the bush and jump on them until they pop open,” Bates said.

Conservation officers have been on the lookout for a cougar in the Buttertubs Marsh area. There have been cougar and bear sightings in the Linley Valley and a bear reported in the Brannen Lake area that broke into a structure to get at food and must now be trapped and put down. Relocating wildlife is not a solution.

“Relocated animals either come right back or they don’t survive where we put them,” Bates said.

For advice on reducing conflicts with wildlife, please visit www.wildsafebc.com/front.

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