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Living with Wildlife

Keeping Black Bears Wild in the Bow Valley

The Living with Wildlife column is published monthly in the Rocky Mountain Outlook to create awareness of living with wildlife challenges. We also work with local newspapers, radio and television stations to promote wildlife safety issues through the media on a weekly basis.

The Bow Valley is home to about a dozen or more black bears. Much like our population, some are part timers and others long term residents. Many of them have managed to coexist over the years, and others have not. Not aware of where wilderness ends and town boundaries begin, they often wander into human use areas in search of natural food sources and find themselves in resident’s yards, feeding on berry bushes and crab apple trees. While these food sources are not bad for them, being in town and in close proximity to humans is. Often unaware residents will leave out tasty treats like bird feed, dog food and garbage. These easily attained food sources will lead a bear to continue to frequent a residential area and eventually lose its wildness, potentially get into an encounter with humans or become addicted to human food.

The solution does seem simple; remove the fruit bearing shrubs and trees. Easier said than done as many residents are unaware that they have bear attractants and others have a difficult time parting with their beautifully blooming shrubs and trees that bear fruit. It is however one of the compromises we must make if we want to continue to coexist with bears. By teaching bears that human use areas are not bear buffets we can keep them out of trouble with humans and in the wild where they belong. After losing 12 black bears in a span of three weeks last September, we have an opportunity this fall to be a part of the solution and help our community become safer for people and bears alike.

How can you help?

  • Cut down or remove the fruit from fruit bearing trees and shrubs.
  • Offer to assist your neighbor with removing these attractants.
  • Check out the list of alternative shrubs and trees (PDF document) that bloom, but don’t bear fruit.
  • Feed pets inside and remove bird feeders and feed from your yard.
  • Store garbage in bear proof bins.
  • Report bear sightings to the Kananaskis Emergency Service Centre (KESC) at 403-591-7755

Thank you to our sponsors whose generosity has made WildSmart a reality.

Residents are encouraged to report any sightings of bear, cougar or aggressive elk to 403-591-7755.
For all public safety emergencies call 9-1-1.

Check out the Bow Valley Bear Summary every Friday.

 

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