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Time to clean the yard

Well, it's that time of the year when black bears emerge from their winter dens, stretch, yawn and begin to forage for tender grass shoots and broadleaf plants.

Well, it's that time of the year when black bears emerge from their winter dens, stretch, yawn and begin to forage for tender grass shoots and broadleaf plants.

Most bears lose up to 30 per cent of their body weight during the winter, so they usually emerge thin and hungry. To conserve energy at this time of year they tend to rest a lot. Their rate of feeding will increase as food quality and availability increases. To help keep bears wild and out of our neighbourhoods, which in turn creates a safer environment for us human dwellers, we must keep all bear attractants out of reach and unavailable to them. Now is a good time to take a walk around your yard and check that all attractants are being managed responsibly and in compliance with bylaws. Check your garbage storage. All garbage must be stored in a wildlife resistant container or in a wildlife resistant enclosure.

Enclosed garages and basements generally are considered wildlife resistant, but most prefab garden sheds are not. The new garbage totes are not wildlife resistant by themselves, but they can be made so with the addition of the bear-resistant hardware.

Yes this comes at a cost of $100, but really what is this cost compared to the safety of our children?

Many people are storing their garbage totes outside, but don't add the garbage until the day of pick up.

This is acceptable, but please keep in mind that what you think of as non-smelly garbage, bears might find extremely attractive. Old toothpaste tubes, deodorant sticks, empty glue containers and other non-food packaging might be very attractive to bears. Please consider all garbage a bear attractant.

Check to make sure your birdfeeders are inaccessible to bears as well as any outdoor fridges and freezers containing food. All petroleum products such as paint and motor oil are bear attractants, as is deadly antifreeze.

Make sure your pet food is stored indoors and that after Rex has been fed, all his remaining food is brought indoors. Turn over and lime your kitchen compost and be sure to make this habit at least three times a week if you intend to keep it. Please do not add any cooked or processed scraps to your compost.

Beyond garbage, fruit trees are the next biggest bear attractant in Squamish. If you don't harvest your fruit, consider replacing your trees with a non-fruit bearing variety. Between flowering and fruiting, fruit trees can be pruned (not topped) to help keep fruit more accessible and easy to reach.

In December, consider having your fruit trees topped for the same reasons. Bear Aware offers a discount on fruit tree pruning and topping. Just call 604-815-5066 to make arrangements.

By making sure your yard is free of all bear attractants you are helping to keep our neighbourhoods a safe place for all residents.

Please be reminded that it is against the Wildlife attractant bylaw to place your garbage curbside the night before collection day.

Garbage patrols are resuming in all Squamish neighbourhoods and addresses that have done so are recorded. The enforcement of this bylaw will begin this summer.

If you wish to become a volunteer for the Squamish Bear Network and Bear Aware please call 604-815-5066 or email bearaware@squamish.ca.