Bear Aware: Back to basics

Now beginning its second year in Invermere and Radium, Bear Aware is hoping to repeat last year’s accomplishments.

Sightings in and around our communities:

-Black bear sow and cubs have been sighted on Highway 93 in Radium Hot Springs, getting into unlocked dumpsters.

-Black bear sow and cubs attempting to feed on garbage on Radium Valley Road.

-Sightings of grizzlies just outside of Radium Hot Springs.

Now beginning its second year in Invermere and Radium, Bear Aware is hoping to repeat last year’s accomplishments. Bear Aware, as the name states, works to increase community understanding of how to avoid conflict with bears and reduce attractants. Last year, the program made 750 households visited with educational materials, plus 22 presentations conducted at schools and community events.

One other major undertaking done by Bear Aware is garbage tagging. This is a program in which garbage bins left out the night before collection are stickered to let the owner know that the garbage is a bear attractant.

Last year began with a count of 42 bins left on the street the night before pickup and was reduced to a low of nine at the end of the program. This is still too many, but a great success just the same.

The start of this year’s Bear Aware program in Invermere and Radium has already been challenging. Unfortunately, the number of garbage bins left out the night before collection has increased since the end of last year; dumpsters have been left to overflow and unlocked; and residents have not been calling in bear sightings and/or conflicts that are in the community to the Report All Poachers and Polluter (RAPP) line.

Whether you’re out riding, hiking, or just relaxing in your backyard, there are simple steps that can help prevent human-bear conflicts, increase public safety and reduce the number of bears that are needlessly destroyed. Remember — the best way to avoid conflict is to prevent conflict!

At Home: Secure all garbage in a wildlife resistant tote or keep inside until day of pickup and make sure all dumpsters are secure with lock or carabineer; ensure all fridges/freezers are inside; avoid using birdfeeders between April through to November; burn off grease and clean barbecues after every use; harvest fruit from trees/bushes as it ripens and pick the windfall.

On the Trails: Make noise (clap your hands, sing, yodel) to avoid surprise encounters especially around loud streams; carry bear spray and know how to use it; be aware and look for bear signs (scat, scratch marks, day beds); leash dogs; pack out what you pack in.

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 by calling 250-688-0561 or emailing or For more solutions, check out the Bear Aware website at

Are you tired of seeing bears get destroyed due to our garbage? Volunteers are needed for an evening of garbage tagging.

Crystal Leonard is the community co-ordinator for the Bear Aware program.