A VINE-RIPENING TOMATO after a light rain.

A VINE-RIPENING TOMATO after a light rain.

Living with bears at this time of year

Super Natural British Columbia - it's why we live here, right?

Yes, “Bear Season” has begun. That’s the time of year black bears come into town looking for ripening fruit, berries and even vegetables.

When I lived in the Peace country, bear sightings in or near town were common enough. In Cache Creek, we’ve had bears in the neighbourhood at least two-thirds of the time I’ve lived here. Why not? It’s good bear habitat.

Normally I see evidence that a bear’s been by checking out my fruit trees. Not only do I have fresh piles of evidence in my backyard, but last week my neighbour to the south lost the almost ripe sweet corn in her garden to a corn-loving black bear. A few days later, it discovered the sweet corn growing in the garden of my neighbour to the north.

Luckily, it doesn’t seem to care much for tomatoes or chili peppers. But the pears and apples are a different story.

A bear can smell food up to a kilometre away. That means the garbage that’s been left out, the ripe fruit on the trees,  – even the pet food that’s left outside for outdoor pets – will attract them.

Those are the top three bear attractants: bird feeders and their contents are another. The garbage, pet food and bird feeders are easily controlled by removing the food. The fruit trees can be managed.

The difference between garbage and fruit trees is that fruit is seasonal, but garbage is year round. Bears will move on when the fruit is gone, but we put garbage out every week to be picked up.

Please control your garbage. Don’t leave your garbage outside – put it in the garage or an outdoor shed until garbage day. Don’t put bags out – if the bears don’t get it, the crows and local dogs will.

Hundreds of black bears are destroyed every year because they’ve been attracted to residential areas by the smell of food.

We like living in small town BC. We like the fresh air and sunshine, being surrounded by the hills,  knowing that they are populated by wildlife. So let’s be responsible. Keep attractants away from bears, and if you do see a bear, move out of its way and let it pass.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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