In the summer of 2016, I’d just moved into an apartment about 20 minutes outside of Whitehorse. We lived on a dirt street with a handful of other properties. There was an idyllic lake steps from our door. Forest surrounded the property. It was definitely bear country.
On one of those first nights in the new house, the garbage bin got full. I tied up the bag, opened the door and plopped it on the landing.
A few minutes later, looking out the window at the loons gliding across the lake, it hit me: the garbage couldn’t be left outside. I snatched it from the landing and set it safely back in a kitchen corner.
We would eventually devise a system to store the garbage indoors until we could muster up enough bags to merit a trip to the dump, about 15 minutes away.
While I never saw a bear on the property, it didn’t stop me from being bear aware.
Last summer, 24 black bears were destroyed in Revelstoke. Twelve of them had become conditioned to eating garbage: a death-sentence for bruins.
When bears learn about an easy food source, they will keep returning to eat.
“Once they get into garbage, they don’t want to eat anything else,” says conservation officer Dan Bartol.
The three bears killed in Revelstoke this summer were all garbage-conditioned animals. They knew where to find easy food.
After Revelstoke made international headlines last summer for its grotesque nine bear deaths in three days, the whole town pulled up its socks.
The City of Revelstoke has taken important steps in becoming a more bear aware community. There’s now bear-proof garbage bins downtown and a new animal attractant bylaw is helping keep wildlife – and humans– safe by laying out the ground rules for safe garbage, compost, bird feeder, barbecue and refrigerator use.
With the upcoming weeks being prime bear calorie-gorging time, let’s all do our part to keep humans and bruins safe.
Dispose your garbage in approved locations, at approved times; pick ripe fruit or nuts and those that have fallen on the ground within two days; clean barbecues; keep bird feeders suspended away from creature that don’t fly; and compost in a way that stays odour-free.
If you’re unsure how to do any of these things, Revelstoke Bear Aware has some amazing resources to get you well on your way to bear-proofing your property.