Living with Wildlife - Watch the Movie

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WildSmart is a program of the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley and relies entirely on donations and sponsors.
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Living with Wildlife

Fruit Trees - Bears, Berries
and Bare Fruit Trees

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.

It’s a perfect early September morning with misty mountains and shadows of the trees playing on the lawn. Hold it a minute - a shadow is missing! Where is my crab apple tree? There it lies on the ground, trampled, apples gone. Vandals you say! However, the berry/fruit-filled bear scat tells a different story.

Come September, bears have more or less depleted the buffalo berries, and other native food sources in the valley bottom. Apples and other fruit bearing trees begin to ripen, and become the next food choice for hungry bears. Such fruit attracts bears to our backyards, increases potential interaction, bear habituation, and resulting human/wildlife conflict. Attracting bears to your yard can also result in opportunistic bears obtaining other human foods such as garbage and pet food.

So what do we do? We want to keep our wildlife and fruit trees too!

The best option is to avoid planting fruit-bearing tress/shrubs that attract wildlife. For a list of trees and shrubs that grow well in this area but do not attract wildlife please download:
Recommended Plant Species for Landscaping (PDF document)

“But we like fruit trees”, is the common response!

The responsibility to have both fruit trees and wildlife sustainability falls to us. We plant fruit trees primarily for the beauty of the blossoms in the spring and to eat the sweet fruit in the fall. Early frosts, hail, wind and wildlife make it difficult to nurture the fruit towards maturity. However, a simple and effective solution still exists. Remove the fruit as soon as it begins to ripen and bring it indoors. If you have more than you can eat, make a pie for your neighbor, or consider donating the excess to local food banks or people in need. This option allows us to keep our blossoms and wildlife too.

As development continues to expand in the valley, bears and humans are forced to live closer together. Thus, we have to behave proactively and responsibly to ensure safety and sustainability for humans and wildlife alike. Taking a responsible approach to attractant management is a critical component of this goal.

WildSmart is a proactive conservation strategy that encourages efforts by all to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions.

We thank our sponsors and the community for their support; we could not do this without you.

Residents are encouraged to report any Bow Valley sightings of bear, cougar or aggressive elk to 403-591-7755. For sightings in Banff National Park, call 403-762-1470. For all public safety emergencies call 9-1-1.

 

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