After a flurry of recent bear sightings in Sooke, Wild Wise Sooke is asking for your help.
This week bears have been reported on Sooke River Road, Glen Idle, George Lane, Kaltisin Road, Kirby Road, Steeple Chase and Otter Point Road. The main reason: garbage.
Wild Wise Sooke is a community educational program with a mission to help reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Debb Read and Sam Webb of Wild Wise Sooke say that unsecured garbage is the main reason bears come into our neighbourhoods, followed closely by bird feed and compost.
“Most people don’t know that bird seed can attract bears,” Read said.
By removing these attractants from yards, residents can help keep communities safe and minimize human-bear conflicts. In short, the fewer bear attractants in and around town, the fewer bears there will be.
Volunteers from Wild Wise Sooke have been handing out flyers and posting signs to remind residents to do their part: secure their garbage, compost, and bird seed.
“It’s actually quite simple,” Read said. “Things like organic waste can be stored in the freezer until garbage collection day. Never leave out smelly garbage, and never put your garbage totes out the night before collection.”
Wild Wise Sooke also encourages those with backyard chickens or bee hives to use an electric fence to help secure the area.
Unfortunately, bear sightings and human-bear interactions are now on the rise in Sooke.
Once a bear seeks out garbage as a food source, it will continue to do so in the future.
“It only takes one person to help condition a bear to garbage. Once that happens, it is difficult for that animal to go back to a completely wild setting,” Read said.
“We can all do our part to help ensure the safety of our communities and these beautiful animals,” Read said. “you can’t be on the fence about attracting bears because attracting bears simply causes safety problems in our neighbourhoods”.
If you spot a bear in a residential area or with people nearby:
• Remain calm. Often, the bear is just passing through. If it finds no food source, it will simply move on.
• Keep your distance. Warn others to keep away as well, and bring your children and pets into the house.
• If the bear appears to be threatening, overly persistent, or aggressive, call the conservation officer 1-877-952-7277.
For more information, please go online to www.wildwisesooke.com or check out the Wildwise Sooke Facebook page at wildwisesooke for sighting and wildlife information.