People and Bears Can Live Together
The black bear is a long-time resident of Smithers and one of our most prevalent forms of wildlife. As Smithers continues to develop and encroach on wildlife habitat, the need for people and bears to coexist safely increases. Whether you're hiking the Perimeter Trail or strolling through the neighbourhood, you may encounter a black bear.
Black bears are most active from mid-March to November, but may remain active during the winter months if non-natural foods are available. Their constant search for new food sources may draw them into Smithers’ urban areas and into your backyard. The residents of Smithers have chosen to live in harmony with their bears. We strive for our community to be porous to bear activity, so that bears can pass through, but are not tempted to stop and get into trouble with people and their non-natural attractants.
Bears live to eat, consuming up to 25,000 calories a day (10 times more than the average person). While they prefer natural vegetation, they will eat almost anything and will do almost anything to obtain food. Smithers is located in the midst of prime bear country. Therefore, we all have to be extra careful with what we leave accessible to bears.
Bears have a keen sense of smell. They are attracted by scents as diverse as vinyl and citronella. Bears learn quickly and will repeat behaviours that lead to food rewards. Carelessly stored garbage, birdfeeders, or an unclean barbeque are open invitations to bears. Bears in pursuit of an easy meal may damage property or, in rare cases, cause injury to people. Paying attention to common household activities will reduce encounters and contribute to creating a more Bear Friendly community. Encourage your friends and neighbours to participate as well.
You can keep your neighbourhood safe and prevent the unnecessary destruction of bears by following these simple guidelines:
Bear safety at home
Respect bears! If you see a bear in a residential area, act responsibly!
- Remain calm - Often the bear is just passing through, and if it finds no food, will simply move on.
- Keep well away - Do not crowd the bear – give it plenty of space. Warn others to be respectful; bring small children and untrained pets inside.
- Let the bear know it is not welcome - Do not allow the bear to feel comfortable in your backyard. After, ensuring the bear has a safe avenue of escape, make lots of noise to encourage the bear to leave. After it has left the area, remove any non-natural foods that attracted the bear.
When to call for help
Call the R.A.P.P. Line (1-877-952-7277 or text to #7277) to report:
(1) A bear sighting in any human-developed area; (2) A human-bear conflict; (3) Property damage caused by a bear; or (4) Wildlife attractants such as garbage.
You have an important role to play in preventing conflict. Be aware that your behaviour does have an impact.
What can you do to help reduce human/wildlife confrontations?
- Keep garbage securely stored prior to disposal – minimizing odours.
- Dispose of household garbage in Town of Smithers supplied garbage containers. Ensure garbage is fully contained within container and only placed on street the morning of scheduled garbage collection.
- Do not store food of any kind outside, even if it is inside a locked refrigerator or freezer.
- Don’t leave trash, groceries, pet food, coolers or any odorous items in your vehicle. Bears can easily pry open car/truck windows and doors to access the food inside.
- Ensure birdfeeders are inaccessible to bears. Fallen seed should be removed daily before nightfall.
- It’s best not to have any fruit-bearing trees/bushes or gardens on your property. If you do, harvest fruits and vegetables as they ripen. Remove fallen fruit from the ground below the tree. Keep your lawn mowed and free of weeds, especially dandelions and clover.
- Burn your barbeque clean immediately after use, wash and store it covered out of the wind – preferably indoors (without the propane tank). At minimum, remove the grease can and store it securely indoors.
- Feed your pets indoors and store their food inside. Don’t leave dog bones lying around your yard.
- Keep your compost clean and odour free.
- If you raise chickens on your property, ensure enclosure is secure and that chicken feed is not accessible to wildlife.
A few useful resources...
WARP is the Wildlife Activity Reporting Program. When a wildlife sighting/confrontation occurs, residents can report it using the R.A.P.P. number (1-877-952-7277 or text to #7277) Once a report has been filed, it will appear on the WARP Provincial map. You can log on to WARP using the link below and see what types of animals have been reported in your geographic area. By clicking on the individual animal, you can see additional information such as; Type of contact, sighting, injured, distressed, aggressive, as well as, what follow-up actions were taken by conservation.
Follow the link below marked “getting started with warp” and follow directions to register with WARP. Registered users can then subscribe to location alerts in their geographic area which can be sent to an electronic device.
Wildsafe BC is an excellent resource for information and education regarding all types of wildlife that live in our area. Check out the “brochures” tab for useful information on each individual species.
Education and Enforcement
2017 Saw a marked increase in the number of wildlife sighting/confrontations in and around the Town of Smithers. In an effort to try and reduce any negative impact this may have on wildlife and our citizens, the Town of Smithers is taking an enhanced role in educating the public.
The Prevention and Community Safety Officer (PCSO) and volunteers of the Smithers Community Policing Office will be distributing notices outlining “best practices” to homes that openly exhibit wildlife attractants on the property.
Reasons for issuing a notice may include;
Garbage that is not completely contained within the Town supplied bins, garbage that is put out to the road prior to your specified garbage collection day, un-harvested fruit trees with ripened fruit, accumulation of fruit on the ground, easily accessible pet or animal food (including bird and chicken feed), accumulation of odorous compost or other vegetative material, any food stored outside.
The BC Wildlife Act specifically prohibits the feeding of bears and many other predatory animals. Residents can receive a fine issued by BC Conservation Officers for feeding or providing attractants to animals.
The Town of Smithers does not currently regulate providing animal attractants in it’s bylaws. There are a number of Bylaws that regulate activities that may result in wildlife conflicts. Repeat offenders may be penalized for failing to comply with these regulations. Please review the following bylaws for more specific information;
If you have any questions or require further information please call the Prevention and Community Safety Officer at 250-847-1600 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org