Wild Wise Sooke: Spring into preparing for bears

New organization will educate public in regard to bear/human conflicts

Residents can help avoid bear-human conflicts.

Spring is around the corner and so our interaction with wildlife begins. It is time to start preparing for the black bears seeking food sources in our neighbourhoods. If you live in Sooke, chances are you have bears living nearby. We live in bear country and should learn to expect to deal with bears. Preventing and/or reducing conflict with bears requires us to modify our behaviors.

The black bear is an intelligent animal, with the ability to remember food locations and can quickly become accustomed to human sources of food. If they’ve had luck finding food, some bears lose their fear of humans and start visiting regularly looking for something to eat. These bears can become persistent and can damage your property and pose a potential safety hazard. You can help keep bears away from your home by removing any bear-attracting food sources.

Is your residence area free of food odors that may attract a hungry bear’s attention?

Garbage, bird food, pet food, fruit trees, and outdoor grills are the most common bear invitations.

When should you call the Conservation Officer?

When the public calls to report a bear, a report is generated. These reports can assist the Wild Wise Sooke program in focusing attention on a certain area of concern within the community.

It is important to report human-bear conflicts to the Conservation Officer Service’s toll-free RAPP line (1-877-952-7277).

In most cases, the COs simply tracks the location, movements and habits of bears through the reported sightings. Conservation Services work directly with Wild Wise Sooke to form a proactive solution through educational intervention. There is a great deal of misinformation concerning bear biology and behavior, Wild Wise provides factual information about bears and bear behavior. This keeps our community safe and wildlife.

Tips for the Kitchen Scraps Program

This year many people have the new kitchen scrap containers. Keep garbage and kitchen scrap containers behind closed doors in your garage, basement or storage area. Garbage and kitchen scrap containers that are left in open carports or in your backyard is an easy target for bears, and other rodents like rats and raccoons.

• Put your garbage and kitchen scraps out on the morning of collection day and not the night before. Avoid stockpiling garbage, as this is a good way to attract bears.

• If you take your garbage to the dump yourself, make sure it is stored behind closed doors and take it to the dump on a frequent basis.

• Thoroughly clean your garbage and kitchen scrap containers every 2-3 days.

• Empty your kitchen scraps container frequently. Keep the lid tightly closed.

• If you have garbage pickup, place your curbside tote at the curb every collection day – even if it is not full.

• Storing your tote indoors in a freezer is a good solution to avoid smells in your home. Warmer weather can increase odour problems. Keep the tote out of the sun.

• Use paper to line the bottom of your kitchen scraps container and curbside tote. Remember that soiled paper products (towels, plates, napkins, cups, etc.) are also accepted in the program.

• Freeze meat, bones and fish scraps until your collection day. This will limit odour problems and reduce the risk of insects in your tote.

• Rinse your kitchen container and curbside tote frequently. Regular cleaning with vinegar and hot water or a mild biodegradable detergent is especially important during warmer months. Fly eggs and maggots can be killed by using boiling water or sprinkling them with vinegar.

• Keep odours at a minimum the natural way. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda, garden lime, biodegradable laundry detergent, or vinegar in your kitchen container and curbside tote as a deodorizer.

Remember — to change the behavior of bears, we must first change our own.

Debbie Read – Wild Wise Sooke Community Coordinator

wildwisesooke@gmail.com