This has been quite a year for raccoons and deer and as an avid (hobby) gardener one of the largest challenges is living with wild animals. For me, the biggest challenge is bears.
We have not had any wild animal encounters the past two years but this year is different. Recently there were three bear(s) sightings on our street to the extent that students in the local schools were kept in during lunch and recess times.
As a result, the major change we are making is composting our kitchen vegetable waste inside the outdoor garage. Here are a few other suggestions which may help you:
Bear Precautions at Home
Some of these well-known ideas are the same for other wild animals such as raccoon and deer:
- The biggest attractions are food and garbage. This is a large problem and some cities such as Creston B.C. have had huge success with providing bear proof garbage cans.
- Other food attractants are bird and suet feeders, pet food outside and even hummingbird feeders. Suggest taking them down during summer
- For the vegetable gardener a compost or fruit on trees are another bear favourite. Pick up edible waste and clean daily if possible
- BBQ's left unclean have been known to also get a bears interest. Again, these need to be cleaned after use.
- If you have water running through your property, or a pond, that will also attract wildlife. As we live half a block from a large green area with a salmon habitat creek, which is also a corridor for wild animals coming down the mountain, wildlife encounters are not totally unexpected.
- Do not ever feed wild animals. It may seem like a kind action at the time but in the long run will harm animals. Bears have very good memories and will return to the source of easy food and if it is no longer available may become very aggressive.
- It's unsafe and probably illegal where you live to feed or “salt” any wild animals.
- This program has excellent information on being more Bear Aware program
Bears Live Throughout BC
So if you live in “bear country” being aware is a way of life. They are not only in “country” areas but in cities like Vancouver suburbs such as Coquitlam and North Vancouver where there are many green spaces and waterways. This past spring walking in a green belt back yard in a North Vancouver home, I almost walked into a large black bear who was very much at home and had no fear of me at all. It's one thing to have a deer walk down the street and nibble on your tulips and roses, or a raccoon breaking into your compost ~ but I would prefer not to meet a bear in my veggie patch one of these days! You just never know where you will meet up with them.
Note: We believe it was the same sow bear who turned up in the same North Vancouver back yard in the fall, and this time with two cubs.
- It's rather difficult to fence out bears as they are very fast, agile and strong. We have known them to break into a “secure” rabbitry shed after domestic rabbit feed
- Many country cities are bringing in laws to keep garbage etc bear inaccessible
- If you live in an area frequented by wild animals it is not a good idea to let young children eat food or snack outside
- Having lived in Country B.C for many years we have had many encounters with bears. The are amazing animals and extremely strong
- An example is an incident which involved a bear carrying a 4 x 8 feet sheet of plywood with a salted deer hide on it. It was walking forwards with the sheet plus hide between his teeth.
- Bear cubs may look cute when they are little but they can grow into massive 500 lb rather awesome adults
- Recently bear awareness is the headline news. Black bear fatalities are rare but do occur.
Links & References
- Bear information : Last year, the Ministry of Environment's Conservation Officer Service received 23,240 reports of bear sightings (between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011). During that time, conservation officers attended 2,827 incidents in which bears were acting aggressively or public safety was an issue. As a result, 120 bears were relocated, while 675 bears had to be destroyed.
- There were 120,000 to 180,000 black bears and 10, 000 and 15,000 grizzly bears in the province (1999) and like the deer their “management” is a very controversial subject.
- Bear Aware information
- Really helpful information on bear awareness
- The Grizzly – or Ursus Arctos Horribilis can be massive