It’s been a little on the warm side recently here in Kimberley, though another dose of winter is on its way this weekend. Perhaps not warm enough to rouse the local bears from their winter slumbers, but it is definitely the time of year to start thinking about them again.
Vanessa Isnardy of WildSafe BC told the Bulletin that she’s taken a look at the bear reports for Kimberley and there doesn’t seem to be any formal reports made yet. She did note, however, that it doesn’t mean that there aren’t bears who may be waking up and checking around for food.
“Typically we start seeing the reports pick up in April, that’s when the majority of bears will come out of there dens and there will be more reports, typically males first, then sows, then cubs,” Isnardy explained.
She said that this is a great time to think about what you have around your home, what attractants you may have out that you will need to reduce with bears getting ready to get up.
For example; have you been using your BBQ over the winter? If so, make sure it’s clean, tidy and covered up.
Have you got bird feeders in your yard? Perhaps consider reducing the amount of feed in them and ensuring they’re inaccessible to, well, everything but birds.
It’s also the time of year that many are devising their schemes for the 2020 gardening season. It’s important to consider the local fauna when plotting out your domestic flora. Make sure you’re able to manage all of the produce you grow, particularly fruit including berry bushes and fruit trees.
Isnardy said that bears may go after apples trees before they are ripe, and have been known to break fence boards and snap limbs off of trees to get at them. She suggested considering to pick fruit early and letting it ripen indoors. Temporary electric fences are also a good deterrent.
“Just because you’ve never had a bear in the yard doesn’t mean your neighbours haven’t,” she said. “Try to think from a neighbourhood perspective.”
Likely the greatest attractant to bears and thus the most important one to manage, is garbage. This is why residents of Kimberley are asked to only put their garbage into bins the morning of garbage collection day.
“When bears have lots of natural foods, they’re unlikely to go into neighbourhoods. they sometimes come into communities at night if they don’t have a lot of wild food. Attracted by the smell of garbage, and ripening fruit.”
Essentially it’s the time of year to start thinking about bears again, and knowing that they may start waking up early in extended periods of warm weather to start seeking food, and we don’t want their first taste of food to be garbage — we want it to be natural food.
There is a tonne of great information about bears, and all the other animals we share our home with, at www.wildsafebc.com. If you click on the WARP (Wildlife Alert Reporting Program) link at the top right, you can see all the reports of animals around B.C. in realtime. All calls get uploaded daily providing timely information. You can see all bear activity, for example, and what’s attracting them.
In April, to coincide with bears coming out of hibernation, Danica Roussy, the Kimberley/Cranbrook WildSafeBC community coordinator will return to her April to November position. She will be the providing information in schools, door-to-door, providing outreach, setting up info booths at community events and will be available for all wildlife-related queries.