Revelstoke Bear Aware wants the city to invest in a bear resistant garbage solution.
In a presentation to council on Feb. 25, Maggie Spizzirri, community coordinator for Bear Aware, presented an assessment that was created to reduce human and bear conflicts, which included decreasing bears’ access to garbage.
Though, overall, less bears have been destroyed in Revelstoke since Bear Aware was formed, 2016 saw 24 bears killed, the largest amount since 1994.
In 2017, Spizzirri said they had reports of bears breaking into vehicles and houses. In 2018 there was reports of bears bluff charging people who were putting out their garbage. Last year there were indications of plentiful wild food, however, one person was hospitalized after a bear encounter and a bear killed a donkey.
In 2019 there were four bears destroyed in the Revelstoke Area, according to the Ministry of Environment, two by conservation officers and two by others. All were black bears. There were also two black bear cubs who were rescued.
Bear Aware has several programs to keep bears wild and inform the public.
Last year, through their gleaning program, they harvested 4,400 lbs of fruit from 50 houses.
They also offer a cost share program for those purchasing bear resistant bins: $300 off any certified bear resistant bin.
New this year, the society will be providing $100 back to property owners who have fruit trees removed by professionals.
Despite these initiatives and steps taken by the city, such as the garbage collection and wildlife attractant bylaw, there is more that can be done, Spizzirri said.
“As Revelstoke continues to grow, so will the conflicts around garbage,” she said.
Based on information gathered by people who call in bear sightings to conservation officers, Spizzirri said that 54 per cent of sightings are garbage related, 33 per cent are fruit related and the rest involve things like livestock, out door freezers and composts.
Spizzirri said the city should look to places like Whistler, Golden, Fernie, Lake Louise, Banff and Canmore for inspiration as each have found solutions that work for their community.
In Golden, they implemented a combination individual bear resistant bins and centralized drop off system, Spizzirri said. Banff also has a centralized bear-proof composting system that could provide an example for the CSRD’s upcoming project.
Spizzirri finished her presentation to council by saying that as the community grows, the need for a bear resistant garbage system will become even greater. And that a system will make the community safer for humans and the area safer for bears.