Squamish is located in prime bear habitat. Bears are active from March through to December, but some may not hibernate if they find non-natural food sources. While conflict encounters are uncommon, it is important to be alert and aware. Stay safe and keep bears wild by following these simple guidelines:
Bears are attracted into our neighbourhoods because of available non-natural food like garbage and fruit. We can reduce the potential for human-bear conflict by simply managing attractants. Our neighbourhoods must be porous to wildlife activity. This means ensuring that wildlife can move through our community without being attracted to non-natural food. We don't want to invite wildlife to stop and stay.
Bears are opportunistic omnivores and will return time and time again to a readily available food source. However, if the attractant is secured or removed, the bear will move on.
- Always use both locks to secure residential garbage totes at all times.
- Put your garbage tote curbside between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. only on collection day and never the night before (as per the Wildlife Attractant Bylaw No. 2053).
- Reduce odours by freezing the smelly stuff in a Ziploc bag and dispose of the bag on collection day.
- Rinse out all recycling material to reduce odours.
- Don’t use birdfeeders during bear season or hang feeders at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 10 feet away from trees or climbable structures. Ensure seeds are not collecting underneath the feeder by using a catch tray.
- Pick fruit as it ripens and don’t let it collect on the ground.
- Maintain an odourless compost by liming, turning frequently, cutting food into small pieces, layering greens with browns and never add meat, fish, fats or oils.
- Consider an indoor worm composter.
- Feed pets indoors and keep all bowls indoors.
- Keep barbeques clean and grease free by burning an extra 5 minutes after removing food and remove or clean barbecue tools.
- Move fridges and freezers indoors or lock them.
- Talk to your neighbours about managing their attractants.
Council approved the keeping of backyard hens and bees. Keeping bees and chickens may increase the chances of attracting wildlife. Please take a moment to review the requirements for backyard hens and bees.
For more information:
- Beekeeping in bear country brochure
- Wildife in Squamish: Bears
- Camping Brochure
- Composting Brochure
- Landscaping Brochure
- Bear Resistant Birdfeeders
Note: For any wildlife attractant bylaw infractions, please contact the Bylaw Office at 604.815.5067. For wildlife sightings and encounters, please call the Conservation Officer Service 24 hour hotline at: 1-877-952-7277.
On the Trails
The key to staying safe on the trails is to avoid surprise encounters:
- Make noise by using your voice i.e. talk, sing, or give a shout out when approaching a blind corner, near rivers, or near natural bear food.
- Riding or running quickly and quietly puts you at a higher risk for surprise encounters. Slow down going around blind corners and make noise.
- Look for signs of recent bear activity i.e. claw marks on trees, fresh scat, day beds, ripped apart logs or overturned boulders.
- Hike in groups.
- Be extra aware during the early morning and early evening hours.
- Leash dogs.
- Pack out what you pack in.
If you encounter a bear
- Stop, stay calm and assess the situation
- Do not run
- Never turn your back on wildlife
- Back away slowly and give the bear space
- Talk calmly
- Avoid eye contact
- Ready your deterrent
THROUGH THE SEASONS
Bears emerge from hibernation typically between March-April and they are lean and hungry. They can spend up to 8 hours a day eating willow and cottonwood catkins, the early shoots of skunk cabbage, grasses, horsetail, clover and dandelions. They don’t gain much weight on this diet and can continue to lose weight well into June and even into July. Bears will stay low in the valley bottoms during this time and will eventually follow the snowmelt up the mountainside in search of spring green-up and summer berries. Let’s keep them moving up the mountains by not attracting them into our neighbourhoods with non-natural food.
The search for food continues and with the summer comes ants and grubs which provide a much needed source of protein. Bears will rip apart rotten stumps and logs and roll over boulders in pursuit of insects and larvae. Breeding season begins late May and ends in early July; these normally solitary animals can be seen together during these few months.
Berries, berries, and more berries! In preparation for hibernation a bear’s appetite will increase during the fall where they will feed for up to 20 hours a day in order to pack on enough pounds to survive the winter. This increased feeding phase is called 'hyperpahgia". They can consume up to 20,000 calories per day, which is equal to a human eating 50 hamburgers per day. If you want to feed birds, keep in mind that birdseed is a non-natural food for bears and a typical seven-pound feeder contains a whopping 12,000 calories making this food just too tempting to pass up. Salmon is an important fall food and even though fruit is a natural food source, domestic fruit from our neighbourhood trees is not. Pick your fruit, collect all windfall and be Bear Smart.
Bears typically enter dens for hibernation in mid-November and will den in the cavity of dead trees or in small caves/rock cavities. They hibernate because their natural food sources are no longer available, not because it’s cold. If there is food available, bears will not hibernate. It’s essential to keep all non-natural food secure, even over the winter. So keep those garbage totes locked twelve months of the year.
SQUAMISH FRUIT TREE PROJECT
The Squamish Fruit Tree Project connects people with fruit to community groups who need fruit.
If you have fruit trees and are unable to harvest the fruit, WildSafeBC and Squamish CAN (Climate Action Network) would like to help. Squamish Fruit Tree Project volunteers will come and pick the fruit and re-distribute it within the community.
If you would like to volunteer your time to assist with fruit picking or have fruit that you are not using, please contact Tracy Keeling, Squamish Fruit Tree Project Coordinator, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604.849.0862 or WildSafeBC at: 604.815.5066 or by email.