With their days of slumber behind them, bears are now looking forward to foraging for food. Fast food is even better. That spells the usual seasonal problems for humans who come into contact with them. People who love the outdoors should take precautions this time of year to avoid run-ins with bruins, says a ministry of environment press release issued May 3.
“The biggest problem this time of year is with attractants,” said Kate Thompson, ministry media relations person. “Bears are hungry right now, their hibernation is over and once they find a nice, easy source of food they just keep coming back. That’s the problem.”
Thompson said Monday, conservation offices have issued warnings they hope will be heeded.
“If you spot a bear, stay calm, keep away from the bear and bring children and pets indoors, if possible. People should never approach a bear and should not run from it, as bears can move very quickly, easily outrunning humans. Warning others about a bear’s presence without yelling is a good idea.
The ministry also offers tips to householders on how to bear-proof their yards:
1. Keep garbage in the house, garage or shed until pick-up day.
2. Don’t add meat products or cooked food to compost, turn it regularly and keep it covered.
3. Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily.
4. Remove unused fruit trees.
5. Use bird feeders only in winter.
6. Keep the ground free of seeds.
7. Clean the barbecue after each use.
8. Store the barbecue covered in a secure area.
9. Bring pet dishes inside and clean up any spillage.
10. Store pet food indoors.
If a bear is threatening, the Conservation Officer Service should be called.
Penner also encourages the public to report all poachers and polluters (RAPP) and to report any wildlife incidences that threaten public safety by calling the 24-hour hotline toll free at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) 7277 on the Telus Mobility Network or by visiting the RAPP website at www.rapp.bc.ca. The MOE has committed $450,000 to the Bear Smart and Bear Aware programs for the 2007-2008 fiscal year and is accepting funding applications from communities to pursue Bear Smart accreditation.