Bears, cougars, moose, people and new developments! New developments such as Montane, The Cedars and the newly approved Lizard Creek to name a few are located in prime wildlife habitat. These developments and are an ideal opportunity to set a precedent as Bear Smart Mountain Community Developments and ensure that the outside perimeter of Fernie remains a safe place for wildlife and people.

WildSafeBC recommends certified communal bear resistant dumpsters rather than curb side collection for developments and businesses on the outside perimeter in prime wildlife habitat. Bear resistant communal dumpsters have proven successful in preventing human/wildlife conflicts in national parks such as Banff and Jasper and in communities such as Canmore and in Bear Smart BC communities of New Denver and Squamish. For more information on the Bear Smart Community program go to www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart.

Great local examples where we have no recorded incidents of bears accessing garbage are: Pinnacle Ridge and New Horizon where garbage is kept secured inside a building. Timberline Condos have communal bear resistant dumpsters for the strata. A great example of a “Bear Smart” campground is the Fernie RV Resort which has bear resistant dumpsters and food lockers. Castle Mountain Villas had two bears destroyed who were accessing unsecured garbage within a couple of weeks a few years ago. Since they have upgraded to bear resistant dumpsters there have been no bears reported accessing garbage.

I understand the concerns from developers regarding the esthetics of bear resistant containers. Below is a great local example of a bear resistant container inside a secure building. This can be done on a larger scale as an extra measure to ensure garbage is inaccessible to wildlife; a bear resistant dumpster inside a secure locked building or enclosure.

Additional “Bear Smart” guidelines should also be considered for new developments to prevent human wildlife conflict. Here are the recommendations:

-livestock (chickens, pigs) must be protected from wildlife with electric fencing

-no planting of non-native fruit bearing trees (apple trees and mountain ash)

-bear resistant solid waste management system (bear resistant communal dumpsters)

-no bird feeders allowed during bear season, April to November

As development, tourism and trail use continue to increase in Fernie and the surrounding Elk Valley so does the potential for human/wildlife conflict. Earlier this year Fernie had a grizzly bear and cubs bluff charge a mountain biker on a popular trail on a Sunday afternoon in Montane. Since the August long weekend there has been a lot of cougar activity on Lazy Lizard trail, a trail runner bluff charged by a grizzly and cubs on the Tamarac Trail and moose sightings on Eric’s trip and by Mushroom head. Is it responsible to add unsecured garbage and other attractants (fruit trees, livestock, bird seed…) accessible to wildlife to this mix?

Be part of the solution; join Wildsafe BC Elk Valley at 10am on Monday August 14 at the Committee of the Whole meeting at Fernie City Hall.

Fernie is a great spot for recreation, that’s why we have moved here and the developments are approved. We choose to live here so it’s up to us to work with this. Wildsafe BC Elk Valley will be making recommendations to our Mayor and Council on how we can help wildlife and people stay safe, they would greatly appreciate your support.

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