In Sooke you don’t have to look far to find a fruit tree growing in someone’s yard, but undermanaged trees can pose a public safety issue.
Bears have by now depleted the blackberries and other native food sources. Apples and other fruit-bearing trees begin to ripen, and become the next food choice for hungry bears.
Tree fruit attracts bears to our backyards, increases potential interaction, bear habituation, and resulting human/wildlife conflict.
Attracting bears to your yard can also result in opportunistic bears obtaining other human foods such as garbage and pet food
Domestic fruit trees are not a natural source of food for bears. They are acknowledged as a bear attractant, and bring bears into our community.
You may not mind if a bear feasts on your fruit, but what you are doing is not only dangerous, it is an offence under the B.C. Wildlife Act.
These bears become used to humans and our surroundings, and they become bolder in exploring urban areas.
If you leave your fruit trees undermanaged and unattended, you are endangering members of our community. You are creating a food-conditioned and habituated bear that will come into contact with humans.
The greater the amount of contact, the greater the potential for a negative incident. Are you willing to accept responsibility for one of these habituated and food conditioned bears?
Bears do not care about the condition of your trees. They may break branches and stems, causing irreparable damage and weakening the tree. The responsibility to have both fruit trees and wildlife sustainability falls to us.
However, a simple and effective solution still exists. Remove the fruit as soon as it begins to ripen and bring it indoors.
As development continues to expand in Sooke, bears and humans are forced to live closer together. So, we have to behave proactive and responsibly to ensure safety and sustainability for humans and wildlife alike. Taking a responsible approach to attractant management is a critical component of this goal. Be Bear Wise!
By following the steps below, your fruit trees will also benefit!
Please consider the following options:
• Prune your fruit trees, so they will produce only the amount of fruit that you are able to pick and consume.
• Clean all fallen fruit from beneath the trees and shrubs daily, and pick fruit and berries as soon as they ripen.
• If you are unable to pick your fruit and berries, email Wild Wise Sooke at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will arrange for volunteers to harvest the fruit.
• A small, inexpensive electric fence system will act as a bear deterrent for your trees. Visit our web page at wildwisesooke.com for directions on how to build an electric fence.
• Remember to keep garbage containers indoors – inside a locked shed, garage, or basement until pick up day. Dispose of garbage regularly – do not stockpile it or it will begin to smell and attract bears.
To change the behavior of bears, we must first change our own. Don’t wait until you have a problem to do something about it. It is our responsibility to learn how to live with bears, we choose to live in bear country.
Debbie Read is community coordinator for Wild Wise Sooke. She can be reached at email@example.com.