Bear Aware: We’re getting better.

I would like to applaud residents and business owners who have been properly securing garbage and picking their fruit trees.

Locations of bear sightings for the past two weeks:

Radium: A bear(s) accessed garbage on Stanley St. about two weeks ago; a bear(s) accessed garbage on Madsen Rd. last week; a sow and 2 cubs were seen just off Highway 93 eating berries last week.

Invermere: A lone bear accessed garbage near 12th Ave./13th St. on October 1; a grizzly bear was seen near J.A. Laird and Pineridge Estates on Friday, September 30; a black bear mother and 3 cubs have been accessing fruit trees, mountain ash, and garbage in the south end neighbourhood last week;a black bear mother with 3 cubs were seen in the Fort Point area on October 1; a black bear was seen in the Castle Rock Estates last week.

I would like to applaud the residents and business owners of Invermere and Radium who have been properly securing garbage and picking their fruit trees. During the curbside collection audit in Invermere last week, Bear Aware found eight garbage bins on the curbside the night before pickup — this is the lowest documented compared to last year’s 42 garbage bins, which is the highest count.

In Radium during a morning inspection, 12 of the 16 businesses had their garbage bins properly secured with a lock or carabiner latching the chains. This has significantly improved from just a month ago when Bear Aware found over 80 per cent of businesses were not locking up garbage. Great job everyone for the significant improvement!

I would also like to recognize Invermere’s council for removing the transfer station in the Industrial Park. As soon as councillors heard of a sow and three cubs eating garbage at the site, they took quick action for safety of the community and the bears. Both the Village of Radium Hot Springs and the District of Invermere are making great efforts in becoming Bear Smart communities and they need to be acknowledged.

Unfortunately, there are still some people who are leaving garbage accessible in either their garbage cans at their homes or at various dumpsters around town. This is unacceptable. It’s really too bad, when most people are putting in a great deal of effort, that just a few people who leave out garbage are causing bears to remain in town.

Most often when bears consume garbage they are destroyed. When a bear is destroyed, the number one question is, “Why isn’t the bear being relocated?’ In most cases, relocating bears does not work. In a recent news release from the Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Environment wildlife conflicts prevention co-ordinator, Michael Badry states, “Once a bear has become conditioned to feeding on human foods, it is extremely difficult to change its behaviour. Relocation is often unsuccessful, so it is far preferable to stop conflicts before they occur. That’s what Bear Aware and Bear Smart are all about.”

I would like to reiterate that the last thing conservation officers want to do is euthanize bears. They look for every possible alternative before doing so. Prevention is the only real way to keep everyone safe.

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, invermere@bearaware.bc.ca or radium@bearaware.bc.ca. Visit www.bearaware.bc.ca.

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