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Spring time is bear time

Bear Aware is back in town and so are the bears. A few bears have been seen over the past few weeks and we can expect to see more ursine activity as the weather warms up.

Bear Aware is back in town and so are the bears. A few bears have been seen over the past few weeks and we can expect to see more ursine activity as the weather warms up.

Since bears have two seasons to live by - "hibernation is coming and hibernation is here"- food is always on their minds. After not eating or drinking for about five months, bears will start to emerge from their dens looking for the fresh new growth of grasses, clover, dandelions, catkins and early skunk cabbage leaves. They must consume a copious amount of food to gain weight and often, due to the low nutritive value of springtime food, they can continue to lose weight well into June.

Squamish is now a Bear Smart-certified community and we know that to reduce human-bear conflicts, it is essential to keep bears moving through the community - we know that we shouldn't invite them to stop and investigate. We know that the more garbage and non-natural food we allow bears to access, the fatter and happier they will be and the fatter and happier they are, the more cubs they will produce, and before long, we will have a population of human-food-conditioned bears wandering our streets.

We know that the management of wildlife is the responsibility of the Conservation Officer Service and that the management of attractants is our responsibility. We know that if we want to see fewer bears in our neighbourhoods (and keep them in the wild), we need to shoulder this responsibility determinedly.

Even though we know all of this, here is a gentle early springtime reminder: Keep those totes locked (both locks) and put your tote curbside and unlocked only on the morning of collection; hang your birdfeeders out of reach (at least seven feet off the ground and seven feet away from a climbable structure), lock all outdoor freezers/fridges or consider moving them indoors; maintain an odourless compost by turning and liming; feed pets indoors; keep barbecues clean; and pick your fruit. These simple steps will assist with preventing conflicts and they will go a long way in preventing "problem" bears from evolving.

For further information, please contact the Bear Aware office at (604) 815-5066 or mtoom@squamish.ca, visit www.bearaware.bc.ca or to report a bear/wildlife incident call 1-877-952-7277.

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