Bears are back in the valley

Bears have been spotted in both Radium and Invermere looking for and finding food such as garbage, bird seed and fruit trees

 

• A black bear was spotted on 13th Ave. in Invermere.

• A cougar was spotted numerous times on 9th Ave/17th St approximately two weeks ago.

• Black bear droppings were located on 6th St/13th Ave and 12th Ave (Wilder subdivision area).

 

It’s official, bears are back!  They have been spotted in both Radium and Invermere looking for and finding food such as garbage, bird seed and fruit trees. Last week I found bear droppings that contained mostly seeds.

Of all the things that bears eat, people seem most shocked when I mention that bird feeders are a bear attractant.  But, when you think about it, a cup of bird seed or half a cup of sugar (which you would find in a hummingbird feeder) has approximately 300 calories. That’s an easy high-energy meal for a bear. Seeds are not unusual for bears to eat in the wild. They eat whitebark pine seeds and many fruits which contains seeds such as mountain ash, blackberries, and raspberries.

When bears eat seeds in their natural environment they actually help the ecosystem. Once the seeds go through the bear’s digestive system they then disperse seeds through their droppings generating more growth of those trees and shrubs.

It may be great for them and for plants in the wild, but not so much in an urban environment. The scary thing is that most people put bird feeders on their patio, which is an invitation for a bear to climb your deck and get rewarded for doing so. Bears can climb any wooden structure, including the side of your house.

For all you birders out there, birdbaths, birdhouses, deciduous trees, snags or dead trees, and colourful flowers are some great ways to keep birds in your yard. There are some great resources and options out there to attract birds without attracting bears. Be careful when planting berry bushes as that’s also a natural food source for bears which may cause the bear to return year after year. Bear Aware recommends that people take their birdfeeders down from March until November. For those that refuse to take birdfeeders down, or remove berry bushes there’s always electric fences that won’t harm the birds but are quite effective in deterring bears.

On another note, garbage still remains the number one bear attractant luring them into our communities. One initiative that Bear Aware does is to manage garbage left out on streets the night before pick up by placing a bright yellow sticker on the bin to educate the homeowner. Last week during this initiative (which we call garbage raids) we counted 28 garbage bins left on the curb the night before pick up. This is a much greater number than last year’s 12 garbage bins after September long weekend.

Whether your garbage is on the street, beside your house or on your deck, it is still a potential reward for a bear. All garbage must be stored in a secure location such as a shed, garage, tested bear-resistant container or in your house before the day of pick up or taken to the appropriate garbage disposal facility.

To report any aggressive deer or wildlife sightings in our communities, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. For more information on WildSafeBC contact Crystal Leonard, WildSafeBC Community Co-ordinator at 250-688-0561, invermere@wildsafebc.com or radium@wildsafebc.com. Check out the WildSafeBC website www.wildsafebc.com.

 

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