Conservation Service reminds the public to secure attractants as bears emerge from hibernation

Submitted by the Clearwater Conservation Office

It’s a message conservation officers try to get out early and often at this time of year: Secure potential food sources as bears will be emerging from their winter hibernation. They are looking for accessible food sources.

The Conservation Officer Service reminds you to secure the attractants around your home and businesses to stay safe this season. During these challenging times we cannot neglect our responsibility to protect the environment and keep our communities safe from human-wildlife conflicts. Take responsibility and do your part to secure attractants. Do not present opportunities for bears to become habituated and or food conditioned.

If you must store your garbage, ensure that it is in a location that is secure and inaccessible to bears, or take it to the transfer station. If you rely on residential garbage pickup services, only put out your garbage on pickup days, garbage or containers must not be set out the night before.

Ensure that pet foods are never left outside and if you’ve had bird feeders up all winter, it’s important to clean and remove them, as well as the ground underneath them. Even the discarded shells are an attractant to bears. Do not keep freezers outside and ensure that all barbecues and outdoor eating areas are kept clean. It’s also a time to start thinking about how you will manage your fruit trees and berry bushes, as well as securing your beehives, livestock, and livestock feed sources. Remove excess fruit from trees and don’t allow fruit to accumulate on the ground when it starts to ripen, use electric fencing around gardens, fruit trees, beehives, livestock, and livestock feed.
Conservation officers will be conducting neighbourhood audits to ensure people are doing their part and are not leaving attractants available for bears to access.

As part of these audits, you may see Conservation Officers in your neighbourhood and other areas, checking to see if attractants such as garbage, pet foods, and bird feeders have been secured or removed. Conservation Officer will also be ensuring that businesses are securing their dumpsters by keeping lids closed and locked, and in some cases, advising business owners to look at ensuring that their dumpsters have metal lids and locking mechanisms to prevent bears from accessing them.

Failing to secure attractants can result in fines, or a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Orders being issued under the Wildlife Act.

You can report violations or conflicts with wildlife to the RAPP 24 hour hotline – Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline. RAPP 1-877-952-7277.