Black bears have begun poking their heads out of their dens and stepping into the spring sunshine. Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee/Facebook photo

Keep your garbage locked up, advocates urge, as bears come out

With COVID-19, educators can’t to go door-to-door with information about keeping bears, humans safe

Bears are starting to come out of hibernation and with the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates are having a hard time getting the message out about keeping bears safe and away from communities.

As bears begin to awaken and look for food, Lydia Koot is urging people to minimize the amount of bear attractants outside their homes. This means keeping your yard clear of fruit, keeping pet food locked up and taking down bird feeders. Ensuring garbage bins that are not bear-resistant are kept locked up is also important.

Cleaning out any recycling kept outdoors is also crucial, as bears are drawn to the sweet smell of pop and beer cans. Really anything with a smell to it will attract a bear – including chainsaw grease and paint stain, which can be fatal if ingested by a bear.

Koot runs education and prevention work with the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee, who normally go out canvassing and doing garbage checks this time of year to inform people how to avoid human-bear interactions. With the spread of COVID-19, this canvassing is impossible.

So Koot is spreading the word in any other way she can – on social media and through local news.

An added hurdle in Hope are the new waste bins, which Koot said the vast majority of residents have stored outside. “They just don’t have space to put them away, and in trailer parks and small homes they don’t even have a garage or a shed, so they are all in front of the house…all week” she said. She had heard of at least five instances of bears opening these bins.

These are not bear resistant, Koot said. “What the bears do is they dump them to the side, they slap on the bin and the lid just jumps open, or they just rip the lid open,” she explained. So extra care must be taken by residents to not leave anything which might attract bears in their bins if they are stored outdoors.

“Keep your kitchen scraps in the house or garage or wherever, locked up, until the morning of garbage pick up,” Koot said. One resident suggested using ice cream tubs to keep the scraps frozen in their freezer.

“We will get dangerous situations very soon, and I mean dangerous situations for the people but also for the bears and people need to sort out their waste properly,” she said.

This means removing anything that remotely smells of food, including napkins and Kleenex. Diapers and used personal hygiene products like tampons and pads can also attract bears to your bin and shouldn’t be put out until the morning of garbage pick up.

“Now, we have a double whammy, not being out there able to be out there – doing the education – and having all the bins available for the bears” she said.

“It’s a tough time, and I understand people’s frustration,” Koot said, adding it’s very unfortunate timing with bears emerging from hibernation and the committee not being able to act because of COVID-19.

If people spot a bear, Koot asks them to call her at 604-206-0415 or call the provincial hotline for wildlife-human interactions at 1-877-952-7277.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack hospital offers thank-you message to community

Chilliwack health-care workers say they have heard everyone’s support throughout COVID-19 pandemic

Outstanding in their field

Agassiz Community Garden activity ramping up

Kent Elementary launches food voucher program

Breakfast, lunch now grocery vouchers amid pandemic

LETTER: A bribe at worst, dangerous at best

Min Wendel of Agassiz condemns the development push for Teacup

School board OK’s sports medicine course

Approves 2020-2021 calendar during March meeting

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read