City of Nanaimo, Regional District of Nanaimo and B.C. Conservation Officer Service are urging residents to stop putting garbage out the night before collection day and to keep carts secured on properties.
According to a city news release, leaving garbage and organic waste out, unsecured, is a threat to the safety of bears and humans. Garbage draws bears and is the attractant that results in half the bear-related problem calls made to the conservation officer service, the city says. Other bear attractants include bird seed, fruit trees, pet food and livestock.
Once a bear becomes conditioned to eat garbage and other attractants, they associate people with food and lose their fear of humans, resulting in hundreds of bears being destroyed in B.C. every year, said the press release.
To limit bear-human conflicts, especially in areas frequented by bears, the city is asking residents not to set out their garbage carts the night before collection, but wait until 5-8 a.m. on collection day. Carts should be removed from the curb after trash has been collected and carts should be stored in a secured location, such as a garage or shed. The guidelines apply especially to households located near the outer city limits, near parks or any location close to wildlife habitat.
To reduce odours from trash carts, smelly food should be wrapped in newspaper and frozen until collection day. Vinegar or baking soda can help eliminate odours and carts can be rinsed with soapy water, the city suggests.
Under the B.C. Wildlife Act, a person who leaves attractants accessible to dangerous wildlife can be fined $230 by the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and setting carts out the night before collection in areas bears frequent is an offence.
Early intervention is key to limiting human-wildlife conflicts, said the press release.
“The sooner the B.C. Conservation Officer Service knows about a bear in an area, the quicker action can be taken to secure attractants and prevent the bear from becoming food-conditioned,” said Caitlin Bickford, conservation officer with the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in the press release. “Too often people wait until the bear’s behaviour has escalated to the level of being a public safety risk, usually ending with the bear needing to be euthanized.”
Anyone who sees dangerous wildlife in their neighbourhood is asked to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1-877-952-7277 or #7277 on the Telus Mobility network.
To learn more, visit www.WildSafeBC.com.