Monday, October 1, 2012

Bearsmart tips for fall

Ministry of Environment

Be "Bear Smart" during the fall

VICTORIA - As British Columbia's bears go through their annual ritual of preparing for hibernation, avoiding conflicts between bears and humans is a particularly high priority during the fall season.

At this time of year, bears are actively seeking out food to build up fat reserves, creating potential for trouble when they get access to non-natural food sources. For example, exposed pet food, ripe fruit, improperly stored garbage, dirty barbecues and easily accessible composts all can create problems. Bears who find such food soon will repeatedly return to these food sources. This often leads to conflict with humans.

Once a bear is conditioned to non-natural food sources, it is extremely difficult to solve the problem without euthanizing the bear. Despite the best efforts of conservation officers, relocation and other non-lethal solutions are rarely successful.

Relocated bears typically return or become problem bears in other communities. In addition, they often fail to adapt to their new habitat and, as a result, either starve or are killed by bears already occupying the area.

The only effective, long-term solution is to prevent conflicts between bears and humans from occurring in the first place.

New for the 2012 bear season, is a brand-new mapping system on the Bear Aware website that gives a reasonable approximation of where human-wildlife interactions are occurring throughout the province.

The Bear Aware education program helps reduce human-bear conflict in residential areas. Administered by the BC Conservation Foundation and funded by the B.C. government in partnership with municipalities and supporting organizations, the program focuses on education, innovation and co-operation and has proven effective in decreasing conflicts.

This year the B.C. government has contributed $225,000 to Bear Aware. Bear Aware is part of the Ministry of Environment's Bear Smart Community Program, a voluntary, preventative bear conservation program that encourages communities to address the root causes of bear-human conflicts, thereby earning "Bear Smart" status.

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