Locals must secure their garbage to keep black bears safe from trouble. (Photo - Jitze Couperus)

Garbage must be secured as bears wake up around Tofino and Ucluelet

We keep them out of the community by keeping our garbage and high calorie attractants secured.”

With spring sprung, it’s time for locals to wake up to the importance of keeping wild paws away from domestic garbage.

“Bears are coming out of hibernation. Let’s get our attractants managed so that we reduce the opportunity for them to get into trouble,” said Conservation Officer Daniel Eichstadter. “They’ve been on a low calorie diet for quite a while, so they’re looking for opportunities to get some fat on them…We keep them out of the community by keeping our garbage and high calorie attractants secured.”

All residential garbage containers must be kept indoors until the morning of pickup in both Tofino and Ucluelet. Pet food and bird feeders should never be left outside and all barbecues and outdoor eating areas must be kept clean.

“If bears get too comfortable around town, they may have to be put down and there’s proactive steps that people can take to make sure our wildlife stays wild,” Eichstadter said. “If they feel comfortable in town they’re going to get comfortable around people and that puts humans at risk of a negative interaction.”

He added that anyone found to be perpetually putting their neighbourhood, and local bears, at risk by leaving attractants out will be hit with a $230 fine that could escalate for repeat offenders.

“They can expect that tickets will most likely be laid for attracting dangerous wildlife,” he said.

Anyone who sees a bear hanging out in the community should immediately report their sighting to the COS’ Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-7277 so that the COS can get information out to the public and put strategies together to limit the chances of negative wildlife encounters.

“Don’t hesitate to report wildlife behaviour that you find concerning, or that might be threatening, to the RAPP line early so that we can be involved early in the process and help change that animal’s behaviour,” Eichstadter said.

Along with bears, spring also means cougars could become more prevalent.

“They’re about to have their young, so they’re looking for opportunities to have a meal and there’s deer around so you will see cougars around. It’s natural,” Eichstadter said. “If people are getting daytime sightings of cougars, or anything that’s not a cougar seeing a person and running away, we definitely need that kind of behaviour reported right away.”

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