Bear Aware Alert
A high snow pack followed by a long cold spring has resulted in a lack of natural bear food causing bears to linger in valley bottoms in close proximity to Fernie to forage for food.
Garbage cans left in carports and backyards between collection days, fruit trees with unpicked produce and windfall fruit on the ground, dirty BBQ’s and birdfeeders will attract bears and entice them to linger in our neighborhoods. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that there are no unnatural food sources available to attract bears to residential areas.
Step 1 Bear Proof your home and surrounding area
Garbage must be stored in a secure shed or inside your house until the morning of collection or taken to the transfer station or communal bear resistant dumpsters at the Chamber of Commerce on Highway 3. The City of Fernie’s Consolidated Waste Regulation Bylaw No. 1845 states that “No person or persons may accumulate, place, store or collect any wildlife attractants as defined in this bylaw in such a manner as to attract wildlife, thereby creating a risk to the safety of any person in the neighborhood or vicinity or to the safety of any wildlife”.
Barbecues & Outdoor Cooking draw bears. Never leave any food unattended outdoors. Burn off your grill after each use. Cover the barbecue with a tarp.
Compost does not usually attract bears if it is well managed. However, if it smells, it can become a problem. Turn your compost regularly, cover it with leaves, lime and soil to reduce odors. Do not put fish, meat, fat, oils, unrinsed egg shells or any cooked foods into your compost. Worm composting is virtually odorless and a good alternative in bear season.
Bird feeders attract bears especially when loaded with rich sunflower seeds and suet.
Pet Food left outside will attract bears. Pets should be fed indoors.
Fruit Trees often go un-harvested and attract bears. Some people feel that letting bears have unwanted fruit is acceptable, but encouraging bears to enter into residential areas is always a risk. The solution is to harvest your fruit early and or fence your orchards. Unwanted fruit trees should be removed.
Dogs rarely deter bears, especially if they are kept indoors at night. Do not depend on the family dog as a defense against bears. Small and older dogs are at risk of injury or death from an encounter with a bear. Always keep your dog on a leash when walking it. Dogs that chase bears can run back to their owners, often bringing the agitated bear back with them.
Hiking and Biking Make noise to warn bears of your presence, watch for fresh bear signs and travel in groups in daylight. If you meet a bear, back away slowly and leave. Do not run. Give the bear space to escape.
Step 2 If you see a bear go indoors– DO NOT RUN from the bear or taunt it. Alert your neighbours.
Step 3 If the bear is aggressive call the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277
By complying with bylaws and keeping your property free of attractants, bears will move on resulting in a safer community and avoiding the unnecessary destruction of bears. For more information on preventing bear/human conflict visit www.bearaware.bc.ca
Reporting Bear Sightings
Bear Aware and the Conservation Officer Service keep track of bears sightings and associated bear attractants. By reporting bear sightings you will add to our knowledge base and enable us to record the movements and numbers of local bear populations, direct our public education initiatives and protect the public and the bears. Think carefully about why the bear was in your neighbourhood. Are there attractants that should be removed? The Bear Aware Coordinator can speak to your neighbours if you are uncomfortable doing this.
To report a bear sighting please contact the Conservation Officer Service. You must go through the PEP (Provincial Emergency Protection) centre in Victoria at 1-877-952-7277. They will relay the message to our local Conservation Officer. Reporting a sighting does not mean someone will show up to kill the bear.