Bear Aware: The birds and the bears

There haven’t been as many bear sightings reported this summer.

There haven’t been as many bear sightings reported this summer. This doesn’t mean bears aren’t around — it could just be that people are not reporting them to the RAPP line. Also at this time of year there is a great amount of food for them in the wilderness such as huckleberries and cow parsnip.

For all you birders out there, myself included, 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 these are also a natural food source for bears which may cause the bear to return year after year. Bear Aware recommends that people take their bird feeders down from March until November. Bears may not come out until April, but taking the feeder down in March gives birds time to finish the seeds on the ground. Food is plentiful for birds in the summer months and they don’t rely on bird feeders. For those who refuse to take bird feeders down, or remove berry bushes, there are always electric fences, which won’t harm the birds but are quite effective in deterring bears. One picture I received was of bear scat that contained mostly seeds just outside some condos. 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 aren’t unusual for bears to eat in the wild. They eat whitebark pine seeds and many fruits that contain 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 scat, generating more growth of those trees and shrubs. Check out our website or send me an email if you would like more information on preventing bears getting into your backyard.

Remember:  the best way to avoid conflict is to prevent it!

BCCF’s Bear Aware gratefully acknowledges funding by the Columbia Basin Trust, the MOE and the Communities of Invermere and Radium. To report a bear sighting or incident call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

For more information on Bear Aware contact Crystal Leonard, Bear Aware Community Co-ordinator at 250-688-0561, or

For more solutions check out the Bear Aware website at