Spring is here, and despite the cooler weather, bears have already been spotted emerging from their winter hibernation. Their main concern is putting on the pounds they lost over the winter, and they will be looking for food, which can bring them uncomfortably close to residential neighbourhoods and their tantalizing array of food sources.
Because of this danger, the Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to secure the attractants around their home to keep themselves and their pets safe from human-wildlife conflict.
Bears have an incredible sense of smell, so something as innocuous as a backyard barbecue needs to be kept clean and have its grease pan emptied. Garbage should be stored in a secure container or location that is inaccessible to bears, and only put out on the morning of garbage pick-up days (not the night before). If you feed pets or livestock outdoors, make sure that food is secured, or taken in at night.
Now that winter is over, birds have plenty of natural food available, so bird feeders can be cleaned out and put away for the season. Not only is birdseed very attractive to hungry bears, it can attract other critters such as rodents or raccoons. Freezers should be kept indoors, and if you have a composter make sure it is well-managed and/or inaccessible to bears.
Fruit from trees and bushes will not be an attractant for a few months, but there are steps that can be taken now to make them less of a potential problem. Trees and bushes should be pruned back in spring, to make them more manageable in the fall. If you have no use for the fruit, or do not want it, consider removing the trees or bushes altogether so that they will not provide temptation as bears get ready to hibernate.
Do not present opportunities for bears to become habituated and/or food-conditioned. The Conservation Officer Service will be monitoring reports of bear sightings in communities, and people who are found to have attracted dangerous wildlife with potential food sources may be subject to fines. Please report such people to the COS through their 24-hour RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.