There isn’t a lot of bear food left in the rivers and woods around Hope.
But as winter nears, local bears are spending up to 20 hours a day on the search for calories that will carry them through their upcoming slumber.
That means they’re hitting up every easy food source they can find. And smelly garbage cans and green bins are among the easiest things to find, says Lydia Koot from the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee.
She called the Standard on Tuesday following her routine garbage day checks around town. She said there has been bear activity throughout Hope, in the Kawkawa Lake area and Silver Creek and it’s time for a reminder that bears are very busy right now.
And it’s up to humans to make sure bears don’t get habituated, and eventually killed.
But in some areas, it’s like a bear smorgasbord. And that’s just too tempting for bears, who are driven to eat as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
“And it’s way easier to crack open a garbage bin then to climb a mountain ash tree and pick berries,” Koot said. “They tip them over and stomp on them.”
She understands that residents are struggling with ways to keep their garbage inside, since the bins required by the Fraser Valley Regional District’s system are very large. But there are ways to minimize the risk of attracting bears.
She suggests residents who can’t store their cans inside at least find a way to affix them to something sturdier, like a fence post. Then, residents just have to detach the cans on the morning of garbage day.
Alternatively, she suggests strapping the cans to each other with a ratchet strap and removing the strap in the morning.
Koot also stresses the importance of keeping smelly garbage inside until the morning of pick up, as well. That means dirty diapers, turkey carcasses, and even dirty cans with bits of sugary pop still inside.
“People should start freezing their leftovers, or have a good, locking pail in the garage, or something in the kitchen to keep that stuff contained and then added to garbage bin the morning of (pickup),” Koot said.
Finally, she urges residents to decorate for Halloween in their living room windows instead of putting jack-o-lanterns on the front porch. For those who love putting out pumpkins, then she advises bringing them in at night.
Most of the salmon that came up to spawn are now gone, Koot said, and food is becoming harder to find naturally.
As for long term, the food and trash found in garbage cans simply isn’t good for bears. They end up eating everything else along with human trash, including bits of aluminum and other materials.
“Keep the bears wild and they’ll move on sooner or later,” Koot added.
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