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DOS gets bear smart


The Squamish Bear Network said it is thrilled with a new bylaw to regulate wildlife attractants.

The District of Squamish adopted the bylaw May 24 and the network is now putting together a brochure to educate residents on the dangers of inadvertently exposing garbage and other attractants to bears.

"We will really try to cover every household in Squamish this year," said network spokesperson Eivind Tornes. "That's our goal."

While bear complaints are already coming in to the local Water, Land and Air Protection Conservation Office, the network is putting the finishing touches on the brochure and will begin visiting complainants to help residents avert a possible bear-human conflict. If a resident is in violation of the bylaw, network members will suggest changes.

"I can sympathize with people who don't have a carport or a place to put the garbage inside the house, so we will try to come up with solutions for them, too," said Tornes. "It's a small effort to make and I don't think it's fair to kill bears because we left out our garbage."

If a resident continually refuses to adhere to the bylaw, the network will call in bylaw officers who may issue fines of $2,000 per day to residents who refuse to place garbage in containers, clear property of fruit fallen from trees, or suspend a birdfeeder in a such a manner that it is inaccessible to wildlife.

"The bylaws are necessary to get maximum compliance," said Tornes, "Because if there's even one out of 20 that leaves the garbage out and the bears get to it, the bears will still be around. But normally, people are very helpful. We visited several hundred households last year and we only had positive responses."

Although legislation under the Wildlife Act already allows conservation officers to order residents to clean up their property, the addition of a bylaw makes the job much easier, said conservation officer Chris Doyle.

"By developing and implementing Bear Smart bylaws, it allows us to use different measures to deal with bears in communities," said Doyle. "There could be things like aversive conditioning and hazing to try and deter bears from coming around residences, but those programs aren't that effective with attractants around."

For more information on how to become Bear Smart or to volunteer, email [email protected] or call Eivind Tornes at 604 815-8985.

[email protected]

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