Five bears have been destroyed in Revelstoke in the past week after wandering into town in search of food, according to the Conservation Office.
“All those bears have gone through the food conditioning and habituation process,” said Justyn Bell, a conservation officer based out of Golden. “All those bears were in the same neighbourhood around Oscar Street.”
That total is the same as the number of bears destroyed in all of 2010, according to Revelstoke Bear Aware statistics.
Bear sightings are also spiking this month as animals wander down from the hills in search of food. There have been 123 bear sightings in all Revelstoke neighbourhoods this year and 44 of those have been since the beginning of this month.
Jeanette Vickers, the Revelstoke Bear Aware co-ordinator, said part of the reason for the increased bear-human conflict is that the bear’s natural food supply is diminished this year.
“The berry crop they normally feed on is really reduced,” she said. “It’s almost a berry crop failure at higher elevations.”
As a result, they’ve been coming into town, attracted by garbage left out overnight, fruit trees, bird seed, compost and even pet food.
“We’ve had reports of all of those attractants being gained by bears,” she said. “They’re being rewarded by being in town.”
Fall is the time of year where bears begin fattening up so they have enough reserves to last through winter hibernation.
“It’s quite common at this time of year for them to a seek whatever food they can and our complaints increase from there,” said Bell.
He said the bears are destroyed because once they’re conditioned to feeding on garbage and other non-natural food sources, they tend to come back for more. “There’s a quite a number of reasons why relocation isn’t a suitable option in a lot of those instances.”
Bear Aware is conducting a garbage tagging campaign over the next few weeks by placing a bright yellow sticker on any garbage can that’s place on the sidewalk outside the allowable hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The stickers read, ““Garbage Attracts Bears, Store Containers Inside Until Collection Day.”
Bear Aware also offers the Gleaning Project – a service where volunteers will pick surplus fruit and vegetables from people’s gardens in order to reduce bear attractants. Volunteers get to keep some of the food and the rest goes to the food bank. Contact Bear Awar at 250-837-8624 to take part in the Gleaning Project.