North Island Midweek

Port Hardy earning Bear Smart consideration

Port Hardy has made strides towards becoming one of B.C.’s certified Bear Smart communities.

The status is awarded by the Ministry of Environment to communities that have undertaken planning and made changes that have reduced human/bear conflicts.

By more carefully managing wildlife attractants such as domestic garbage, composts, ripening fruit, pet foods, bird feeders and other sources of odour, Port Hardy has reduced human/bear incidents by more than 50 per cent compared with previous years.

“While we have made significant progress this year we must have continuing education and effort in the following year to achieve our Bear Smart status,” said Mac Willing, Port Hardy’s Bear Aware Community Coordinator.

“I would like to recognize the BC Conservation Foundation, Port Hardy municipal staff, Fox’s Disposal Services Ltd., BC Conservation Officer Service, School District #85, and the Bear Aware program volunteers. My thanks to all those who contributed to the progress that we have made.”

Willing kicked off the Bear Smart campaign in Port Hardy earlier this year, staffing a booth at the Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair from which he shared tips residents could use to help reduce human/bear conflicts in and around the community.

On average, 500 black bears and 40 grizzlies are killed each year in B.C., and most of these deaths are preventable by managing attractants.

Among Willing’s suggestions:

  • Keep garbage in a location inaccessible to bears. If you don’t have secure storage, food waste can be frozen until collection or taken to the landfill.
  • Bird seed is attractive to bears. Birds don’t need extra feed during the summer so keep feeders in until November.
  • Compost, chickens and pet food can all become attractants if managed improperly.
  • Remove potential food items from vehicles and campers. Each year, many vehicles are damaged by black bears trying to gain entry for the food.

For more information on the Bear Aware program see www.bearaware.bc.ca.

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