Hardy to be Bear Aware

The District of Port Hardy is seeking Bear Smart certification.

PORT HARDY—The District of Port Hardy is hoping to earn B.C.-certified Bear Smart status with a variety of measures designed to reduce human-bear conflicts in and around the local community.

Among the steps taken by the District is replacement of public waste receptacles with bear-proof containers and an education campaign to inform residents on ways they can reduce the incidence of problem bears.

“The District of Port Hardy is committed to reducing the numbers of human-bear conflicts, both for the safety of our citizens and the health of our wild bears,” Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham said. “The Bear Smart program has provided us with good, sound information and recommendations that we are implementing as we can.”

As a result of several incidents involving bears in Port Hardy this summer — particularly at large dumpsters used by businesses and apartment complexes — the District has begun working in conjunction with Fox’s Disposal, the local waste-disposal service, to reduce the availability of attractive wastes.

“The odours from garbage, over-ripened fruits, pet foods, bird feeders and other wastes tend to draw bears into our towns, increasing the risk of human-bear conflicts,” said Mac Willing, the local Bear Aware community coordinator. “Human-bear issues tend to be deadly for the bears, as many garbage-habituated bears are destroyed.”

Willing suggests several tips regarding management of attractants, including:

• Keep garbage in a location inaccessible to bears. If you don’t have secure storage, you can freeze smelly food items until collection morning or take garbage directly to the landfill;

• Bird feed, along with pet food, is attractive to bears, but birds do not need additional feed in summers. Bring feeders in until November so they don’t become bear feeders;

• Compost, chickens and pet food, if managed improperly, can all become bear attractants; and

• Remove potential food items from inside vehicles and campers. Every year a number of North Island vehicles are damaged by black bears attempting to or gaining entry to reach food.

Willing said residents can learn more about identifying and managing bear attractants at www.bearaware.bc.ca.