In an effort to help reduce conflicts between humans and bears—including an attempt to decrease the number of bears being killed—B.C. conservation officers have been ramping up efforts to ensure residents remove bear attractants.
Each year, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) receives over 25,000 reports of conflicts between humans and wildlife, with many related to bears and attractants.
The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy stated in a news release today (December 20) that this year, the COS conducted bear-attractant audits across the province starting in the summer and increasing in September and October.
Officers inspected residential, recreational, and commercial areas to check if attractants were secured using bear-proof bins, if excess fruit has been picked from trees, and electric fencing was used around livestock.
In particular, officers focused on areas with a history of bear conflicts and where garbage, pet food, birdseed, or compost had attracted bears.
After 704 inspections, the audits resulted in a total of 732 enforcement actions, including 76 charges, 301 warnings, and 355 dangerous wildlife protection orders, which direct property owners to remove an attractant or receive a $575 fine.
In B.C.’s South Coast region, which includes Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, 79 inspections were conducted and 202 enforcement actions
A second phase of audits will be conducted in the spring when bears emerge from hibernation.
The B.C. environment ministry explained that access to non-natural food sources alter the natural behavior of bears and wildlife, which lose their fear of people and develop appetites for non-natural food.
“Relocated wildlife often fail to adapt to their new habitat,” the B.C. government news release states. “As a result, they make long-distance movements, starve, or return to their original area or another community in search of easy food. The ministry and COS are determined to significantly reduce the role of attractants through both education and, where necessary, strengthened enforcement measures.”
In an effort to reduce the numbers of wildlife that are destroyed, conservative officers are trying to educate humans about changing their behavior instead.
“The conservation officer service cannot stress enough that the best way to keep people safe and bears from being destroyed is to secure attractants around your home, business or campsite,” COS chief conservation officer Doug Forsdick stated. “The conservation officer service hopes that through these attractant audits, the public will recognize that more needs to be done to ensure everyone does their part to help keep wildlife wild.”
Fines due to attractants can range from $230 to $575.
For more information about managing wildlife attractants, visit the WildSafeBC website.