Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott is encouraging residents to prepare to avoid wildlife conflicts this autumn.
One strategy, according to a Sept. 25 release, is being rolled out in high-bear-activity neighbourhoods Garibaldi Estates and Downtown Squamish. A new Bear Tote Pilot Project, in partnership with Green For Life Environmental, Inc. (GFL), is starting up with new bear-resistant totes. Those with the new designs are encouraged to provide feedback over the next several months regarding both ease of use and design while reporting bear activity and damage to GFL at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-892-5604. The program will run for roughly eight months.
Across the district, residents are encouraged to secure attractants by implementing the following practices, especially as bears prepare for hibernation:
• picking fruit as it ripens and not allowing it to gather on the ground, and installing a portable electric fence if possible;
• locking and securing totes, storing them inside if possible, only unlocking them and putting them out the morning of collection days;
• freezing meat and food scraps until collection;
• rinsing recyclables and regularly cleaning totes;
• hanging bird feeders three metres (10 feet) high three metres from climbable structures, and using a tray to catch seeds;
• keeping pet food indoors;
• cleaning barbecues after every use and keeping fridges and freezers indoors;
• securing hens and beehives with an electric fence; and
• ensuring that bears do not feel welcome and driving them away by clapping hands, shouting, or using an air horn, from a safe distance.
"We know all too well that the outcome for a human-habituated and non-natural food-conditioned bear is one that is tragic, but it's also preventable if we put greater attention and care into managing our residential wildlife attractants," Elliott said in the release. "If we do our part and change our behaviour to eliminate access to non-natural food, we will discourage wildlife from lingering in our neighbourhoods and help them maintain their natural diet and behaviour."
If there is an attractant concern, contact the bylaw department at email@example.com or 604-815-5067, and to report a wildlife sighting or encounter, contact the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 or forms.gov.bc.ca/environment/rapp.
To learn more about living with wildlife and what you can do to minimize the risk of human-wildlife conflicts in your home and neighbourhood, visit squamish.ca/wildlife.
**Please note, the headline was changed after the story was first posted to reflect that this is a new pilot project. Bear resistant totes are already available. This is a new type.