So far in 2012, two bears have been killed in Maple Ridge over conflicts with humans, compared with 15 the year prior.
That’s a measure of success that Bear Aware coordinator Rosie Wijenberg can point to as the district Bear Aware program goes into hibernation after its first year in operation.
She has spoken to children at all local schools in high bear-conflict areas. Wijenberg knows her message got through, both because she got requests for more presentations, and because when she was done the kids were “playing bear.”
Wijenberg and volunteers also went door-to-door in many high-conflict areas, talking to people about ensuring potential food sources – garbage and fruit – were not available.
She plans to continue that work in Year 2, with an added emphasis on rural areas, and consulting with some property owners in rural areas to encourage electrical fences to keep bears out.
She will encourage more bear-resistant garbage cans in high-conflict areas, as well.
Wijenberg will also work to establish a fruit gleaning program for next year, noting that it is the premier attractant. Fruit brings bears closer to homes, where they will find other food sources like garbage, bird feeders and pet food.
While Bear Aware is standing down until spring, most bears in the region will remain active – particularly those that have become food conditioned.
The Conservation Officer Service (COS) urges residents to avoid human-bear conflicts and a potential $230 fine under the Wildlife Act for accessible attractants.
• Residents are encouraged to call the COS via the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 to report human-bear conflicts.