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Springtime the perfect time for attractant management: COS

Hungry bears beginning to emerge from winter hibernation in Quesnel
A black bear feeds on vegetation along the Nazko Highway in August 2019. (Lindsay Chung - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Now is the time to prevent future conflicts with bears who will be hungry after awakening from their winter slumber, says a Quesnel conservation officer.

Officer Justin Millett is advising the public to be mindful of things that could serve as potential bear attractants, such as garbage.

“If we can try to get ahead of the bears, get things tidied up, and dealt with and secured before bears start coming around, it helps to prevent those conflicts before they even start,” he said.

While it has been off to a quiet start in terms of bear conflicts, the same could not have been said in 2020.

Millett said bears kept the Conservation Officer Service (COS) in Quesnel busy, although officers were able to speak with property owners and come up with solutions such as managing and better securing their garbage and chicken coops.

Read More: Bears take the brunt of negative human behaviour in B.C.

Officers had even chatted with several apartment complexes and waste management companies, after which ‘bear proof’ dumpsters were installed.

“I found it to be very productive last year getting out,” Millett added.

“A couple of times, we were able to just go to the door and talk to each person individually and discuss different solutions before bears got into their garbage, so that’s something I could see us doing more this year,” Millett said, noting while some bears were relocated after they had been identified as good candidates, others, unfortunately, had to be euthanized due to the high risk they had posed to the public.

Once a bear has established that a garbage can is full of ‘easy’ food, more often than not, the bear will return, Millett said.

“Bears are going to be coming out, and we’re happy to work with the public to help come up with solutions to prevent bear conflict, and if any conflict does arise, they can always give us a call.”

Conflicts can be reported by contacting the COS 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).