Doing business in bear country

In the last three years, there haven't been this many sightings of black bears reported in town

Wildlife sightings in and around our communities:



• Black bear spotted in the morning at 10th Avenue/17th Street

• Black bear droppings near Kinsmen Beach

• Black bear consumed garbage from a residential house on 12th Avenue


Radium Hot Springs

• Black bear seen near on Radium Boulevard

• Black bear rummaged through garbage at a resident’s apartment on Highway 93


In the last three years, there haven’t been this many sightings of black bears reported in town this late in the year. Now that the leaves are falling, it shouldn’t be long before the bears start thinking about sleeping and moving on to find their dens. Garbage is the number one attractant luring bears into town. During the past few weeks, I have really been  focusing on educating business owners, managers and employees in Radium Hot Springs with a particular focus on restaurants and lodging, because they produce a great deal of garbage.

Most businesses store garbage in a large industrial metal garbage bin. These bins can deter bears if they are latched properly, but much of the time they are not.

Usually at least once a week, I check to see if dumpsters are being properly latched.

Many businesses have taken extra precautions ensuring garbage bins are latched day and night; it hasn’t gone unnoticed and is greatly appreciated.

Others have not.

One thing some business owners tell me is that people leave garbage beside the dumpsters, so they might as well keep it open. Fair enough, but keeping dumpsters open isn’t solving the problem. People simply adjust to using these dumpsters as their personal dumpsters. A better idea is to place signs stating Not For Public Use, and to keep the area clean. In places this has been done, I have seen less and less garbage placed beside bins. In fact, it’s a rare sight for me now.

An even better precaution is to keep garbage bins locked so the public can’t access the dumpsters they do not pay for.

Another problem some hospitality owners have is telling their guests that there is a bear in the area and to therefore not leave garbage outside, and to burn off barbecues after use.

They fear this will deter people from staying in their accommodation and scare them back to the city.

I can understand their predicament, but we live in bear country — we choose to live and work in bear country. Guests need to know this and understand  there are certain practices that must be complied with when visiting our communities. I deal with the public on a regular basis, and I actually don’t think this will scare people off. I think this will intrigue them and give them a greater understanding of the place they are visiting.

Crystal is the WildsafeBC community co-ordinator for the District of Invermere and Radium Hot Springs. She can be contacted at 250-688-0561, or To report any aggressive deer or any wildlife sightings in our communities, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. For more solutions, check out the WildSafeBC website