The bears are out – are you ready?

After active bear year in 2016, Revelstoke Bear Aware planning more events and outreach in 2017.

A cub and sow graze in the grass off Westside Road on April 23.

By Maggie Spizzirri, Revelstoke Bear Aware

With the change in weather from winter to spring, wildlife is awake and happening. Keeping this in mind, Revelstoke Bear Aware and the residents of Revelstoke saw an extremely active bear year last year.

In 2016 there were 642 reports of bears to both the Conservation Officer Service (COS) and Revelstoke Bear Aware, and 24 bears killed. There were multiple reports of bears damaging property, breaking into homes and cars and showing aggressive behaviour. This was not a localized issue — cities across B.C. saw an increase in bear activity and multiple resolutions are being looked into.

The COS and Revelstoke Bear Aware agree that a waste management solution is essential moving forward. The City of Revelstoke has purchased and will be installing bear resistant bins to replace current garbage bins downtown and in local parks. A new wildlife attractant and garbage bylaw is being reviewed by council and will hopefully be passed before summer hits. These are great first steps as garbage is the number one attractant causing human-wildlife conflict with fruit trees coming up second.

The Revelstoke Bear Aware education initiative reached 1,842 people with face-to-face presentations. Over and above this, door-to-door campaigns, bear in area lawn signs, online and social media, and local and global media outlets were also successful reaching additional residents and visitors. The Gleaning Project was busy with multiple trees needing to be picked and numerous amazing volunteers donating their time. The project will be expanded this year with the partnership of the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative and a dedicated gleaning coordinator so that more trees will be able to be gleaned resulting in more fresh local fruit being donated to the food bank.

Revelstoke Bear Aware has some exciting new workshops this season to help aid in our education initiatives to get the word out about attractant management. A pruning workshop will be held April 25 with Loki Tree Services. Pruning fruit trees are an important step in fruit tree management. A pruned tree yields better fruit and makes gleaning far easier which in turn increases the chances that the tree will be picked, resulting in the reduction of a bear attractant.

An electric fence workshop will be held on May 25. Electric fences are a great way to keep chicken coops, bee hives, and more safe. Temporary electric fences can also be used for fruit trees as fruit is ripening. Bears do not take into consideration how ripe fruit is, they will eat fruit ripe or not.

Keep an eye on the Revelstoke Bear Aware Facebook page for upcoming events throughout the season and remember to keep your garbage secured indoors or inside a shed and keep your fruit picked up off the ground and harvested at the earliest convenience.

Bears are active already this year, with the closest being spotted on Westside Road this past weekend. Open and available garbage have also been spotted throughout the city. When taking garbage to the dump be sure to take extra caution that no garbage falls out of your vehicle. It is the hope of Revelstoke Bear Aware that everyone comes together in managing attractants to keep bears wild and our community safe. If any wildlife attractants are spotted, insecure garbage or fallen fruit, the City of Revelstoke has a great reporting app called See Click Fix, (revelstoke.ca/332/See-Click-Fix), where these incidents can be reported and a bylaw officer will speak to the home owners.

10 Tips for bear proofing your yard:

— Secure garbage from bears, either in a bear- resistant container or indoors. Don’t put your garbage out before 6 a.m. on the day of collection.

— Harvest ripe fruit and pick up windfall fruit every day.

— Remove bird feeders during bear season (April–November) or use only small amounts of feed and bring in each night.

— Feed pets indoors. Store pet food and livestock feed indoors.

— Consider a properly installed and maintained electric fence to protect small livestock (such as

chickens and beehives), fruit trees, and compost piles.

— Consider removing outdoor freezers and fridges.

— Do not put cooked food, meat, fish or cheese in compost. Keep compost piles working properly, smelly compost attracts bears.

— Clean barbecues after each use.

— Do not feed wildlife.

— Report conflicts with bears to the Conservation Officer on 1-877-952-7277.

Please visit revelstokebearaware.org for more information on managing bear attractants or contact Bear Aware at 250-837-8624. To get the latest information about bears in Revelstoke, like us on Facebook. To report bear sightings or conflicts with bears please call the 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).