Revelstoke needs to work at being Bear Smart in order to reduce bear-human conflicts, two Conservation Officers told council last week.
Officers Alex Desjardins and Dan Bartol were in Revelstoke last Tuesday, Dec. 8, to discuss the issue with council.
While they are based in Golden, they also cover Revelstoke since the community has been without a CO since 2013 when Adam Christie retired and the Ministry of the Environment refused to staff the position here.
“I’d like to propose we become Bear Smart communities without people getting injured,” said Bartol.
There were 844 black bear and 24 grizzly bear reports in Revelstoke and Golden last year — 273 of which were related to garbage as an attractant.
Hot spots for bears in Revelstoke include large parts of Columbia Park, Farwell, near the river; CPR Hill, much of Southside, and parts of Arrow Heights.
Bartol said Revelstoke needed to proactive in addressing bear issues, noting that translocation doesn’t work, and destroying bears is not desirable.
“Instead of being reactive, instead of destroying bears, instead of relocating bears, there are proactive solutions we can take,” he said.
Bartol did note the city’s successes through Bear Aware programs like the Gleaning Project, and the city’s garbage bylaw.
Bartol said there are two types of violators — those who are ignorant of the rules, and those that ignore them.
For the first group, education is key, said Bartol. For the latter, bylaw enforcement is necessary.
“You’ve created an excellent bylaw. You need to do a little bit more in enforcing it,” he said.
Bartol also said the city should look at bear smart garbage bins. “What’s happening in a lot of Bear Smart communities is communal garbages,” he said.
Bear-proof bins don’t come cheap. A bid by Bresco to provide an automated garbage collection service using bear-proof bins came out at almost $70,000 more expensive than a system that didn’t use bear-proof bins.
Mayor Mark McKee recommended the city’s security committee look at the issue.