Removing wildlife attractants remains best strategy as peak season for human-wildlife conflicts gets underway

New bear-resistant tote pilot underway in select Squamish neighbourhoods

The District of Squamish Wildlife Office is ramping up seasonal educational efforts as bears prepare for hibernation and human-bear conflicts typically rise. Squamish residents are being urged to be extra vigilant in securing all accessible wildlife attractants and consider storing totes indoors when possible. 

“We know all too well that the outcome for a human-habituated and non-natural food conditioned bear is one that is tragic, but it’s also preventable if we put greater attention and care into managing our residential wildlife attractants,” says District of Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott. “If we do our part and change our behaviour to eliminate access to non-natural food, we will discourage wildlife from lingering in our neighbourhoods and help them maintain their natural diet and behaviour.”  

Residents are being urged to put the following practices into place:

  • Manage fruit trees by picking fruit as it ripens, not allowing fruit to gather on the ground, and installing a portable electric fence if possible. 
  • Lock and secure garbage and organics totes at all times, and unlock them only on the day of collection. 
  • Store totes indoors whenever possible.
  • Reduce odours by freezing leftover meat and food scraps until your collection day.
  • Never set totes curbside the day/night before collection, even if locked. This becomes a greater attractant for bears when out on the street.
  • Rinse all recyclables to reduce odours in your tote and clean totes regularly.
  • Hang birdfeeders at least 10 feet high and 10 feet away from a climbable structure, and use a catch tray to prevent seeds from accumulating on the ground.
  • Keep pet food and bowls indoors. 
  • Clean barbeques and move outdoor freezers/fridges indoors.
  • Protect urban hens and beehives by installing an electric fence. 
  • Ensure bears feel UNwelcome on your property and encourage them to move on by shouting, clapping your hands or using an air horn from a safe area.

The District of Squamish, in partnership with Green For Life Environmental Inc. (GFL), has launched a Bear Tote Pilot Project to put a new bear-resistant tote design to the test. Totes are being tested in two neighbourhoods, Garibaldi Estates and Downtown Squamish, where bear activity is high despite residents’ best efforts using current bear-resistant locking mechanisms. Tote testers are being encouraged to provide feedback over the next several months on the ease of use and design aspects of the test totes, and to document any bear activity or damage. The pilot project is being monitored and will run for approximately eight months at which time, based on the data, a decision will be made to expand the testing program with this model or research alternative models for testing. More information will be made available once the pilot is complete.

Who to contact for wildlife-related issues: 

  • If your tote or locks have been damaged by wildlife, please contact GFL for a free repair or replacement at 604.892.5604 or squamishtotes@gflenv.com
  • To report a neighbourhood wildlife attractant concern, please contact the Bylaw department at 604.815.5067 or bylaw@squamish.ca.
  • To report a wildlife sighting or encounter, please contact the Conservation Officer Service 24/7 hotline at 1.877.952.7277 or forms.gov.bc.ca/environment/rapp.

The District of Squamish has supported a Wildlife Education program since 2005 with the primary goal of reducing human-wildlife conflicts through education, innovation and cooperation. Squamish was the second community in B.C. to receive Bear Smart Community status. 

To learn more about living with wildlife and what you can do to minimize the risk of human-wildlife conflicts in your home and neighbourhood, visit squamish.ca/wildlife

 

September 25, 2020

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