Locals who fail to secure their attractants put the West Coast’s bear population at risk.

Poor attractant management habituates bear in Ucluelet

"People are leaving their garbage out so it’s bringing bears in this time of year," Const. Josh Roda told the Westerly.

Fines are coming for those still refusing to secure their garbage.

Ucluelet has, once again, failed to properly store its attractants and caused another black bear to become habituated.

B.C. Conservation Officer Steve Ackles arrived in town on Sept. 22 to set a trap for a bear that has moved into Ucluelet and become conditioned to unnatural food sources.

“The bear has been at people’s homes actually banging on windows and going on decks,” Const. Josh Roda of the Ucluelet RCMP told the Westerly News adding unsecured attractants are to blame for the animal’s unnatural and habituated behaviour.

“It’s a bear that’s now begun eating garbage. People are leaving their garbage out so it’s bringing bears in this time of year and, unfortunately, Conservation is going to have to step in and possibly trap and dispose of the bear.”

He said conservation officers plan to trap and relocate the bear in the hopes that it will not return to town but suggested, if the bear does return, it will be killed.

“We’re hoping the bear can be captured safely and relocated at this point,” he said. “Unfortunately there’s not a lot Conservation can do other than trap it and, if it comes back, they’ll have to dispose of the bear.”

Black bears are common on the West Coast but usually confine themselves to their natural forest habitats unless they are drawn into town by unsecured garbage or other attractants that offer them easy-to-access food sources they can quickly become addicted to.

In order for local wildlife to stay wild and out of town, locals must secure attractants like garbage, bird feeders and pet food and keep their barbecues and outside recreation areas clean to deter animal-attracting odours.

Roda said anyone caught leaving attractants unsecured can be fined under the B.C. Wildlife Act and he suggested these fines might start being issued more often as wildlife officials are growing tired of handing out warnings to West Coasters.

Conservation officers ramped up their educational outreach efforts after irresponsible attractant management caused a bear to become habituated in June and frustration looks to be mounting over Ucluelet’s inability to get the message.

“They just want to see what’s best for the animals and that we can live in harmony,” Roda said of the Conservation Officer Service. “I think Conservation has put the message out here enough that, at this point, they just need to start fining people and that’s the message they’ve conveyed to us.”

He added locals must understand that the cost of improper attractant management is an animal’s life.

“I would hope that people care enough about the animals to realize that leaving their garbage out is going to attract them,” he said. “It’s going to create a behaviour in animals that they are going to seek civilization to find food and that, in turn, is going to get the animal killed.”