With hungry bears out searching for food, British Columbians are reminded to do what they can to reduce conflicts with the animals.
The main cause of human-wildlife conflicts in B.C. is access to non-natural food sources. Bears that learn how to get at exposed pet food, ripe fruit, improperly stored garbage, dirty barbecues or composts become conditioned and will continue to return to the area.
Residents are encouraged to prevent human-bear conflicts by adopting the following practices:
* Keep garbage secured in a bear-resistant container or in the house, garage or shed until pickup day and return the containers to the secure site once they are emptied.
* Clean the barbecue grill after each use, and store it in a secure area.
* Do not add meat products or uncooked food to compost. Turn it regularly and keep it covered.
* Bring pet food dishes inside and store the pet food inside.
* Use bird feeders only in winter.
* Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily and remove any unused fruit trees.
* Keep the ground free of seeds and nuts.
If residents spot a bear, they are advised to remain calm, keep away from it and bring children and pets indoors, if possible.
No one should ever approach a bear or run from it, as bears can move quickly. Once a bear has left the area, residents should check their yards to ensure no attractants are available.
B.C. conservation officers are the primary responders to human-wildlife conflicts where there is a risk to public safety, conservation concerns or where significant property damage has occurred.
Recent changes to the Wildlife Act give conservation officers the ability to issue a $230 ticket or notice for a court appearance to residents who do not secure attractants.
Residents who intentionally leave out items that attract dangerous wildlife could also be issued a dangerous wildlife protection order. Failure to comply with an order carries a $575 fine.
Bear Aware is an educational program managed by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation.
For more information, please go to www.bearaware.bc.ca.