As fruit on the trees ripens, the likelihood of bears showing up in yards increases.
While Cumberland has done a good job at reducing these animal interactions, Sgt. Mike Newton of the B.C. Conservation Service says it is important for consistent messaging and action to eliminate the risk.
He spoke to council at a committee of the whole meeting in June about the issue of wildlife interactions, which have been common.
“The conservation office has been busy this year with a lot of bear calls,” he said.
He noted problems in some places such as insufficient waste receptacles that are not bear-proof, including plastic cans with lids that do not really stop bears from getting garbage. Other issues include mixing in different recyclable materials with items that might attract bears.
“The bears that come into the community will feed there all the time,” he said.
There are measures such as locking garbage bins that can help keep the animals away. Important measures he cited included enforcement and messaging to the community about the need to be aware of bears.
“With attractant management, it has to be consistent. It has to be at a high level,” he said.
He credited the village though, saying it has been progressive in many ways to reduce the problems, such as taking steps in the bylaw to have residents keep garbage receptacles in until the morning of pickups as well as enforcement of violations. Other measures include foot-activated garbage cans in public parks.
Newton had taken a recent tour of the village and said the community was generally doing a good job, though he cautioned that if the village messaging wanes, it could face a ‘slippery slope’ when it comes to having the public comply with measures to prevent animal interactions.
He also spoke about fruit in yards and the need to make sure it is not left around for bears to find. He recommended measures like electric fencing to prevent animals from coming from fruit, or even living in a yard if they become too acclimatized.
“Cumberland’s challenge is how to manage fruit,” he said.
With the summer heat finally here, he also told council the community is facing that period of time when more fruit is ripening, which can then mean more bears.
Coun. Vickey Brown responded that while she would see bears in the area before, she is seeing them in her neighbourhood every night.
“This year has been dramatically different,” she said.
Members of council also had questions about interactions with other wild animals, particularly cougars, and how to respond or get more information. Newton suggested resources such as WildSafeBC or the conservation officer service website for information, or calling the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277) or local bylaw control with bylaw infraction complaints or concerns about wild animal interactions.