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Unsecured garbage and compost fuel surge in bear sightings in Sooke

Wild Wise Sooke urges limiting bear attractants

The upsurge in bear sightings across Sooke has sparked alarm as the B.C. Conservation Service reports an inundation of calls.

According to the B.C. Conservation Service, bears, lured by easily accessible garbage, compost, and recycling, are a growing concern, highlighting the pressing need for responsible practices to ensure peaceful coexistence between humans and wildlife

Volunteers have been going door to door to discuss the importance of limiting bear attractants and providing educational material. Still, the problem persists, said Mollie Cameron, president of Wild Wise Sooke.

“We’re seeing more and more people have not secured attractants such as compost, garbage, and recycling than those who do,” she said. “And unfortunately, many people still put out garbage the night before collection instead of the morning.

“The significant increase in population in Sooke is what’s driving the rise in reports. Bears understand our human conveniences, so it’s up to us to consider how we may impact wildlife negatively.”

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Once bears have discovered unsecured attractants are an easy source of food compared to natural foraging, they will continue to do that, so eliminating the opportunities to find food in garbage and composts is key, Cameron stressed.

“If we don’t provide those opportunities, they will return to foraging,” she said. “Coexistence is possible if we’re all responsible and participate.”

The B.C. Wildlife Act requires residents to secure wildlife attractions or face fines of up to $500. Conservation officers have the authority to issue dangerous wildlife protection orders, which include failure to remove food, food waste, compost, or garbage that may attract bears.

Store garbage, recycling, and green bins in a closed, locked garage or shed, even if empty, because empty bins will have a residual smell.

Bins stored outside should be secured to a post by a cable to ensure they can’t be dragged away.

Minimize odours by freezing meat and other smelly food scraps and putting them in the compost on collection day only.

Keep bins clean by using a compostable liner or rinsing them after use.

About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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