“Lock your totes and manage your attractants” is the message community wildlife advocates wish to share as Squamish bears are emerging from hibernation lean, hungry and looking for the first signs of food.
WildSafeBC is receiving reports of bears accessing garbage in the community and is urging residents to take extra measures to ensure garbage and organics totes are locked and secured at all times, except between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. on collection day.
“Living with wildlife is an integral part of the Squamish community lifestyle,” says District of Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman. “We live in bear country, and it’s critical that we understand the way they live and act within their natural environment, not only to successfully co-exist, but to serve as an example for other communities.”
Attractants must be removed or secured around residences and commercial businesses to ensure the safety of citizens and limit negative impacts on wildlife. Attractants include: unlocked garbage and organic totes, dirty barbeques, pet food stored outside, bird feeders accessible to bears, recycling containers that haven’t been rinsed, fruit-bearing trees, berry bushes and more.
“Securing garbage and organics totes in a wildlife-resistant enclosure such as a garage or shed is a best practice to prevent bears from accessing non-natural food sources,” says WildSafeBC Community Coordinator Meg Toom.
“It’s critical that totes are not placed curbside the night before collection, even if the totes are locked. Curbside totes – even locked ones – provide more time and opportunity for bears to gain access to high calorie non-natural food.”
The Conservation Officer Service (COS) works in collaboration with District of Squamish Bylaw Services, the RCMP, Squamish Nation, WildsafeBC and Carney’s Waste Systems to coordinate appropriate responses and mitigate wildlife conflict situations.
“The COS is dedicated to reducing human-caused wildlife conflicts in Squamish,” says Conservation Officer Simon Gravel. “We do this best when we get early information about a bear’s whereabouts and habits so that we can work to address the situation and keep the bear moving through the area before our options for a successful outcome run out.”
Unsecured attractants are a violation of the District of Squamish Wildlife Attractant Bylaw and could result in fines.