Conservation Sargent, Kevin Nixon, represents the Bulkley Lakes Zone and was at Smithers Town Council this week, preparing residents for bear season.
Why may you ask would Nixon speak now? Well, in 2014, Smithers had over 200 bear complaints made. Since then, the amount of complaints has decreased, however, over the past three years, the number of complaints has begun to rise yet again.
“The main gist of the presentation to council was in regards to municipalities stepping up to educate the public on bear awareness. Council had approached me about numerous issues that took place last fall and so we figured it was a good time to speak publicly about the issue.”
The problems that arose last year, were the fact that bears were creeping their way into the comfort zones of residents. The reasons for this may vary, however, Nixon provides a few direct examples on why bears may be making their way into town more frequently.
“There’s always the on-going issue of unproperly stored garbage, both commercial and residential. Another issue would be that there are many fruit trees within the region, as well as, a lot of people grow their own gardens. One of the main issues last year, was the fact that chicken feed was left out in many areas, attracting some unwanted attention from the bear community.”
So what can residents do to be more proactive? Well, the biggest thing is managing attractants by picking fruit trees and properly storing outdoor garbage, food, and waste.
Nixon says he may have one solution in terms of properly storing garbage within the region.
“The company that manufactures the garbage containers that you would find in Smithers and the surrounding region, have a cool modification that can be made to keep bears out. It’s a metal bar that goes across the top of the garbage bin and can make it more bear-resistant but not totally bear proof. Honestly, it’s a quick fix and modification to the existing garbage containers, something I think the municipalities of the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District should look into.”
Nixon finished by stating the obvious.
“We’re always going to have bears in our community so eating non-natural foods, is simply not an option. If they find human-related food or attractants, it tends to keep them in our communities, which can cause problems for residents. People need to be more aware of the impact their having so these bears can simply pass through the region being normal bears. As conservation officers, we are sometimes put in very difficult situations. We do not want to destroy any sort of wildlife so it is important the public educates themselves and are aware of the attractants in their area.”