Putting your garbage out too early presents bears with an all-they-can-eat buffet.

Putting your garbage out too early presents bears with an all-they-can-eat buffet.

Be garbage smart to keep the bears away

Bears have a keen sense of smell, and the scent from your garbage cans is like ringing the dinner bell for them.

If you go outside one morning to find a bright yellow sticker with bear silhouettes on your garbage bin, there’s a good chance that Mandy Ross has been by your house.

Ross, a WildSafeBC community co-ordinator, will be out in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) area in the coming weeks, tagging garbage bins that have been put out too early on collection day.

“It’s a way of letting people know that putting garbage out too early is a bear attractant,” says Ross. She writes her name, date, and e-mail address on the stickers so people can get in touch with her if they have questions.

Much of the TNRD is bear country, and it is important to keep garbage bins in a secure location until at least 5 a.m. on the day of collection. This helps ensure the safety of both wildlife and the community, as bears easily become habituated to garbage, and become a danger to the community and themselves if they start to seek out garbage as a food source.

“Rotting food on the ground is also a big bear attractant,” says Ross, who will sometimes go door-to-door warning people if fruit is piling up on the ground. “People can contact me if it’s an issue in their neighbourhood.”

She points out that a gleaning operation is a good way to get rid of excess fruit. One gleaning group she is aware of in the Fraser Valley gives half the fruit they collect to the local food bank, and distributes the other half among the gleaners.

“It’s pretty quiet in most of my communities so far this year,” Ross says. That could soon change, however. “Hot weather can dry up the food supply, and bears might start coming down into towns for more food.”

Ross will be travelling to different community events throughout the summer, such as farmers’ markets, where she sets up a booth and talks about bear awareness and safety. “I’m available to come to schools, Guide and Scout groups, kids’ groups, homeschool gatherings, and day camps to do a presentation,” she says. “Anyone who wants to can get in touch.” Contact Ross at (250) 319-6265 or at tnrd@wildsafebc.com.