Bears pay price for in-town garbage and fruit buffets

From Jan 1. to Nov. 2, 30 black bears have been destroyed in Tri-Port area

Bears are paying the price for in-town garbage and fruit buffets.

From Jan. 1 to Nov. 2 of this year 30 black bears have been destroyed in the Tri-Port area, says Conservation Officer James Hilgemann, who is stationed in Black Creek. Twenty-four black bears were put down by conservation officers and another six were killed by others such as property owners or RCMP, Hilgemann said.

Two bears were hazed away from the area using things like rubber bullets, dogs or noise. Two cubs, Jordan and Athena, were taken to the Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington for rehabilitation. No bears were relocated, he said.

Currently, Conservation has two bear traps set up in Port Hardy and one in Fort Rupert.

Filling up their bellies to prepared for hibernation is the main focus of bears right now. “They’re feeding like mad to put on calories,” Hilgemann, adding that bears will start to den and “disappear for a couple to three months” depending on conditions.

According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation officers killed a total of 1,872 black bears over the past four years across the province. Just 126 black bears were relocated during that same time period, 464 were hazed, and 137 cubs were taken to rehabilitation centres.

At their meeting Nov. 10, District of Port Hardy Director of Corporate Services Heather Nelson-Smith said an overview of the Bear Smart program and what is required is being prepared by Crystal McMillan, who did a survey on the community’s green belts, drainages and waterways which are hot spots for wildlife.

This will allow the district to come up with a plan which they can include in the 2016 budget, said Nelson-Smith. The district does have a bylaw in place about garbage. It states that people are not allowed to store garbage or waste in such a mannner that it will attract domestic animals or wildlife; that all garbage shall be stored in an enclosed building, shed or storage facility  or in a locked container.

Garbage containers can be out between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a property owners designated garbage collection day. People who violate this bylaw are considered guilty of an offence and can be fined between $100 and $250.