Island bears are busy during the fall

  • Sep. 21, 2007 3:00 p.m.

Submitted by James Hilgemann-Dew in the morning, blackberries ripening on the brambles and fish in the creeks means fall is here. Each fall, the creeks and green belts that run through all the communities on Haida Gwaii are frequently used by bears. Neighbourhood bear sightings go up as bears cruise town fishing chum salmon from creeks, eating berries and snooping around for human handouts. The Queen Charlotte Conservation Officer Service would like to remind folks about a few Bear Smart tips that will help to keep conflict between people and bears to a minimum.First, ensure that any attractants on your property are minimized. Pick fruit as soon as it’s ripe and remove fallen fruit from the ground. Lock up your garbage and only put it out on the morning of your garbage collection. Refrain from using non-bear proof dumpsters. If it’s not metal with a covered latch, it’s not bear proof. Those wooden boxes folks use will not prevent bears getting into the garbage. Keep your barbecue area clean and free of grease. If you clean fish at home, remove the carcasses quickly and leave no scraps. Take your fish carcasses and deposit them in the ocean – well below the high tide mark and preferably out of town and away from residences. Ensure chickens are penned at night in a sturdy, lockable hen house. If you’re hanging or butchering deer at your residence, ensure it is locked up and inaccessible to wildlife. Again, pick up all scraps and dispose of responsibly – NOT at 1 km on the Queen Charlotte mainline. This just draws bears closer to town and invites trouble. Run deer hides and scraps further out into the bush and return them to nature well out of the way. Second, avoid using brushy trails or trails that border the forested outskirts of town if possible; especially alone or at night. If you are using these trails, talk out loud, whistle and have a dog with you. If possible, walk with friends or in small groups. All these steps will increase the bear’s opportunity to hear you coming and get out of your way. Surprising a bear by bumping into it at a close distance is what you want to avoid. If you do see a bear, let it know you’re a person. Talk out loud, look big and back away slowly. Give the bear a chance to leave. Never ever run from a bear, as this may initiate a predator “pursuit” response. Be especially cautious if you encounter a sow with cubs, and avoid getting between the sow and the cubs.Now these tips will minimise but not all together remove issues with bears in town. If you do have a conflict with a bear, or see one that’s acting in a way that makes you believe the bear is unafraid of people or becoming accustomed to garbage or other attractants, please contact your local conservation officer. It is our responsibility to assist you to try and prevent a possible conflict. The CO Service at 126-2nd Ave in Queen Charlotte (located above City Centre Store) can be reached at 559-8431, or 24 hours a day at RAPP (Report all Poachers and Polluters) 1-877-952-7277If you have a neighbour who isn’t holding up their end of our community responsibility to prevent bear conflict, talk to them or call us. We’d be happy to pay them a visit and try to bring them on line.We would like to remind folks that it is illegal to feed bears. It’s also illegal to discharge firearms in all communities on Haida Gwaii so please don’t attempt warning shots to scare bears away in town. If you know of someone who is breaking the law in this regard, please report them using the numbers listed above. Anonymity is guaranteed. Should you have any questions about being more “Bear Aware” we’d be happy to help, so please give us a call. Have a safe fall and enjoy the season.