Avoid these habits when moving into bear country in Metro Vancouver
Moving into bear country should not be an anxiety-filled ordeal. Most bear-active cities like Coquitlam or North Vancouver, are beautiful scenic cities, with the local mountains and forests right in their backyards. Some believe that having black bear encounters, or worrying about them damaging your property, is a price to pay to live in a scenic city by the mountains. However, if you and your neighbours take some precautionary measures to bear-proof common attractants, bears will be kept from coming into your property.
Another factor that plays a huge role in attracting black bears into the city are the potential food sources. This is good information to keep in mind when you are viewing properties in bear-active cities. You may want to take note of your potential neighbours and their habits. Do they keep their yard well kept? Do they have garbage containers that are placed outside unsecured? Do they have bird feeders that are hanging low enough for bears to reach? If so, you may want to think twice before moving into that neighbourhood.
In a report from Vancouver Sun that we cited in our previous article about black bears, there is a list that shows the top five things that were attracting bears into the Metro Vancouver area. The top five things that drew bears into the city during the time of the report are the following:
1) Garbage (3971)
2) Fruit trees (834)
3) Livestock (331)
4) Bird Feeders (204)
5) Berry Bushes (148)
Managing garbage in Metro Vancouver
The first and most important matter to deal with is garbage. Black bears can smell garbage from far away and are very attracted to the potential food sources that are in garbage containers. Actually, in certain cities like Coquitlam, it is the residents’ responsibility to manage their garbage so as to not attract wildlife. There is a city bylaw that allows the city of Coquitlam to fine up to $500 dollars for feeding wildlife, including allowing garbage to be accessed by bears.
The best way to prevent black bears from finding your garbage containers is to store them in a basement, a garage, or a shed. Make sure it is secured and locked. It is not advisable to store garbage containers outside until garbage collection day. There is also a city bylaw in Port Coquitlam that allows the city to fine residents who place their garbage on curbs outside of allotted pickup times.
If it is absolutely impossible to store your garbage securely inside, it is strongly advised that a bear-proof garbage can is used. Make sure to spray down your garbage container often to keep it clean. You may even consider using bleach once in a while to ensure it does not smell. If you are the do-it-yourself type, there are various online step-by-step instructions that you can follow to make your regular polycart trash container or a smaller food waste container, a bear resistant one.
How can I feed birds in my neighbourhood without feeding the bears?
The best way to not feed bears with a birdfeeder is to get rid of them altogether. However, there are ways around this. Bird feeders can be put out in the winter time when bears are hibernating. If you want to keep them out all year round, you can decrease their attractiveness to bears by taking them down at night. In addition, you can fill the feeders regularly but only with a small amount. One important workaround is to cause the bird feeders to be out of reach by bears. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to bear-proof your bird feeders, courtesy of the City of Squamish, BC.
Moving into a property with a lot of fruit trees and berry bushes
Bears are attracted to fruit, especially when they are ripe. If you live on a property with a lot of fruit trees and berry bushes, take the time to pick them before they ripen. Allow the fruit to ripen indoors. Fruit or berries will fall to the ground after strong gusts of wind, so be sure to keep your yard clean. Remember to prune your trees regularly. This will not only help yield better fruit, but you won’t have wilted fruit left on the branches that attract bears. If it is difficult to keep up with the fruit-picking, there are a couple of other options. You, or your landlord can to replace the berry bushes or fruit trees with a non-fruit-bearing variety. Another option is to put an electric fence up to ward off the black bears.