Bear spotted in Harrison backyard

Conservation officers tranquilize young bear in tree

A bear is carried away after being tranquilized and falling from a tree in a residential area of Harrison Hot Springs last Thursday.

The discovery — and relocation — of a “conditioned” bear in Harrison Hot Springs has prompted a warning from the regional district.

The bear was found last Thursday at about 7 p..m near Eagle and Naismith. It was up a tree in a backyard, and had to be tranquilized. A witness said the bear fell from the tree after being tranquilized.

Three RCMP and two conservation officers were on scene.

While Harrison Hot Springs is a rural area, there are things residents and visitors can do to reduce bear attractants.

The FVRD has a new Bear Aware program, an educational program that teaches residents how to manage and reduce bear attractants, and in turn, reduces the opportunity for human-bear conflicts. It started as pilot project last year in Mission, and was so successful the FVRD has decided to expand it to the entire region.

The program will have two coordinators, Chris Ovens, located at the FVRD office, serving the City of Chilliwack and surrounding areas, and Brian Cummings, located at the District of Mission office, serving Mission and Abbotsford.

“The funding for these programs shows what strong partnerships exist in the valley” says Frank Ritcey, Provincial Coordinator of the Bear Aware Program. “The FVRD, The District of Mission, the Province through the Ministry of Environment, and the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund have all contributed in kind or in cash to see that the communities within the Fraser Valley are well served with this program”.

Annually, hundreds of bears are destroyed in British Columbia, as a result of people not managing attractants properly. Bears that become conditioned to human food often end up posing a threat to human safety and are consequently destroyed. Ovens and Cummings are planning to educate the community about the correct way to manage their attractants and, in turn, create safer communities for both humans and bears. Their methods will include door-to-door visits, tagging curbside wastes that are set out too early, school presentations and taking part in community events.

“I am extremely excited for this opportunity to work with my community to address what is a growing issue in our area. I would also like to thank all of the partners involved as I think their participation shows great foresight” says Ovens.

Janne Perrin, a resident of Harrison Hot Springs and member of the Miami River Streamkeepers, offered the following tips for reducing bear encounters.

– Keep garbage in the house or garage until pick up day

– Don’t add meat or cooked food to compost, turn it regularly and keep covered

– Use bird feeders in winter only. Keep ground free of seeds.

– Keep pet dishes inside and clean up spillage.  Store Pet food indoors

– Keep refrigerators and freezers inside

– Clean you BBQ after use and store in a secured area

– In season pick ripe fruit and remove any fallen fruit

 

Perrin added that if you see a bear, it’s important to remain calm. Keep away from the bear and bring children and pets inside.

If a bear is threatening call the Conservation Officer Service 1 877 952 RAPP. To learn more, visit www.bearaware.bc.ca.