Conservation Officer Service
AGRICULTURAL and RESIDENTIAL VEGETABLE GARDENS
- Identify if the bear problem is a result of poor husbandry practices.
- No fencing or inadequate fencing of crops.
- Proximity of crops/orchards to naturally occurring food sources such as wild berry bushes.
- Surrounding heavy bush and trees can act as a comfort zone for bears to use as cover. Consider removing or thinning the bush.
- Electrical fencing can be a highly effective deterrent to bears if it is deployed properly. See reference materials.
- Within municipal neighbourhoods, problems can be compounded when multiple residential properties are attracting bears. Be proactive in the neighbourhood to help address the problems.
- Identify if there are any other attractants that could be compounding the problem such as compost bins or garbage.
- Keep gardens away from heavy bushes. The heavy bush provides cover and a security blanket for the bear.
- The use of scare devices such as motion lights or leashed dogs can be effective short-term solutions.
- Bear bangers are also an option, but they arent recommended for use in residential areas or in other locations with close proximity to people/residential property.
- Also see Crop Damage.
- Barbeques are a source of odorous and food-type bear attractants.
- Barbeques should be cleaned after each use. Wire brush the grill and burn of all food residuals each time you use the barbeque. Grease and fat are a high calorie food source for bears.
- Drip pans should be removed and cleaned after each use.
- Barbeques should be kept locked inside a bear-proof shed after they have been cleaned.
- Covering a cleaned barbeque will further help to reduce the transmission of food odour.
- A barbeque stored within a shed that has an un-cleaned grill or drip pan will still attract bears and could possibly lead to property damage.
BEAR SIGHTINGS Backcountry
- Determine if the bear exhibited aggressive behaviour or threatening behaviour. If it did phone the Ministry Call Centre (1-877-952-7277).
- Check the Ministry websites or pamphlets on what people should do in order to minimize encounters that they have while in the backcountry
BEAR SIGHTINGS Frontcountry
- Bears are not to be fed. It is an offence under the Wildlife Act to feed dangerous wildlife.
- Remain calm. The bear was likely just passing through their neighbourhood and if the bear doesnt find food it will likely move on.
- Keep away from the bear and tell others to do the same.
- Bring children and pets inside until the bear has left.
- If the bear becomes threatening or aggressive towards people call the Ministry Call Centre (1-877-952-7277).
- Determine if the bear has been attracted to the location or is in the locale as a result of household type attractants being present.
- If any attractants are noted get information on how to eliminate or reduce the effect of the attractant(s).
- Beehives are a high calorie and high protein food source for bears. Bears will identify beehives as food - it is important that people who are operating beehives take protective measures.
- Protect hives with electrical fencing. Non-electric fences are not effective.
- The book Fencing with Electricity is an excellent source for designing and implementing electric fences.
- Margo Supplies Ltd. sells electrical fencing products - most local feed stores will as well.
- Placing beehives on platforms with an overhang of more than two metres can also be an effective deterrent.
- Wiring beehives together with metal strapping can also help prevent damage to beehives.
- Dont set up beehives during early springtime when other sources of food for bears are not available or may be scarce.
- Bears consider berries to be a natural food source. People with berry bushes whether they are naturally occurring or planted, can expect bears to be attracted to their berry patches.
- Bears are attracted to ripened berries. Ripe berries are sweeter tasting and have a high caloric value.
- Pick the berries as they ripen, thus minimizing the attractant.
- Put up electrical fencing to protect berry bushes (see books and resource materials).
- As a final option, remove the berry bushes. If the attractant is removed, this will remove the bear problem.
- Birdseed or suet filled bird feeders will attract bears through the odours they emit. Birdseed and suet are high protein food source for bears.
- Take down all bird feeders. During the spring through fall seasons bird feeders may not be an option for people living in areas with high density bear populations.
- Ensure that there are no other attractants on the property which could compound the problem.
- Forinformation about camping in bear country check the Ministry website or informational pamphlets.
- The use of scare products and electrical fencing are options for dealing with crop damage being caused by bears. See website and books and resource materials.
- If there is a lawful hunting season open at the time and in the location that the crop damage is taking place; there is the option of contacting the local rod and gun club to arrange for hunters to come and harvest the problem bears.
- The Wildlife Act doesn't authorize the owner of agricultural property to destroy wildlife that is damaging or eating crops.
- Also see fencing and agricultural and residential vegetable gardens.
- Remove any meat, meat by-products, fish, and cooked fruit and vegetables from compost.
- Sprinkle lime in compost. The lime will aid the composting process and help to reduce the odour.
- Covering the compost with a light cover of dirt or soil or a heavy cover of grass clippings will also assist with odours.
- If the problem persists the compost bin may have to be removed.
FENCING - Electric and Non-Electric
- Fencing out predators over large areas can be very difficult. Most predators will easily cross over or under conventional livestock fences. A predator's response to a fence will be influenced by a number of factors including its experience with fences and its motivation for crossing the fence. Some predators learn to dig deeper or climb higher to defeat a fence. Recent improvements in equipment and design have made fencing more effective and economical.
There are two categories of fencing, electric and non-electric fencing.
- Net-wire fencing in good repair will for example deter coyotes. Openings in the mesh should be less than 6 inches high and 4 inches wide.
- High tensile barbed wire at ground level or a buried wire apron will discourage predators from digging under fences.
- Fences should be at least 5 1/2 feet high to hinder animals jumping over them.
- Preventing predators from climbing over top of the fence can be prevented by adding a single electrified wire at the top of the fence or by installing overhanging wire.
- New energizers, chargers and fence designs from Australia and New Zealand have recently revolutionized electrical fencing in North America. Many different designs including one for portable electric fences are available.
- Designs incorporate charged and alternately charged wire, with trip wires and ground wires.
- The latest designs have every wire charged.
- The USDA found in an experiment that a 13-strand electric fence provides complete protection to sheep from coyote predation.
- Labour to keep electrical fencing functional can be significant. Wire tension must be maintained; vegetation under the fence must be removed to prevent grounding and damage from feeding livestock and wildlife, and the charger must be checked to ensure proper operation.
- Electric fences can trap predators inside the fence.
- Traps and snares can be set along fence lines to increase predator defences.
Fencing alone wouldn't necessarily eliminate predator problems, but when used in combination with other predator control methods such as trapping and shooting it can be highly effective. Sound husbandry practices must be maintained.
- Also see Livestock Husbandry, Guarding Dogs and Predator Control and Prevention
- Instruct the caller to pick the fruit as it ripens. Ripe fruit has a high caloric value and is a highly sought after food source by bears.
- Fruit can be picked before it ripens. The un-ripened fruit can then be stored indoors while it ripens.
- Let friends or neighbours pick the fruit.
- Determine if the fruit trees are necessary or if they are still wanted. If they arent, have the trees cut down.
- Install electric fencing to protect the fruit trees.
- Check for a local Bear Aware telephone number - there may be a local fruit sharing program in place in the community.
GARBAGE / GARBAGE CANS
- Keep garbage inside until the morning of garbage collection.
- Odorous garbage can be kept inside a plastic bag and frozen until garbage day.
- Garbage can also be kept in the basement or inside their garage or shed if it is bear proof.
- Use airtight garbage containers.
- Businesses/property owners can install bear-proof garbage bins (see websites).
- Businesses can also construct a bear proof fence/storage area to house their garbage until collection time.
- Neighbourhood garbage problems can be addressed through residents being proactive in their neighbourhood. Encourage residents to talk to the neighbour(s) that is causing the bear problems and help educate them about bear attractants.
- Garbage should not be left in the back of vehicles or under canopies; they arent bear proof and will likely get damaged.
- The only effective way to exclude bears from landfills is by installing electric fence.
- Bears that are harassing or menacing domestic animals (livestock) or birds can be hunted or trapped on a person's property under Section 26(2) of the Wildlife Act.
- Under Section 2 (Property in Wildlife) - section 2(4) states that a person who by accident or for protection of life or property kills wildlife, that wildlife remains the property of the government.
- Persons must report the killing or wounding of any wildlife. Failing to report the killing or wounding of any wildlife whether it is for protection of life or property is an offence under section 75 of the Wildlife Act.
- Persons must comply with all Municipal, Provincial and Federal laws surrounding the use and discharge of firearms or the setting of traps.
- Persons are liable for any wildlife that is wounded or injured as a result of them exercising their rights under section 26(2) and that they are legally responsible for any misuse of firearms.
- If there is a hunting season open for bear at the time and in the location of the occurrence, hunters from the local Rod and Gun Club may be able to assist.
- Scare devices may also be an option to try and help protect livestock against bear attacks.
- Local feed stores may carry these products.
- Livestock and poultry should be kept locked inside a barn or coop at night if a bear is in the area.
- If livestock is killed or injured call the Ministry Call Centre (1-877-952-7277).
Livestock management and predator management can effectively reduce livestock losses. Listed below are husbandry techniques that can help reduce predation:
- Livestock confinement (not allowing livestock out onto a pasture) may prevent predation - this however is not a feasible option for most farmers. Penning livestock at night is another option to help reduce predation.
- Adding lighting to a pen or corral will also help to deter predators - livestock will quickly adapt to the lighting.
- Spring livestock birthing coincides with predator birthing and can result in high levels of predation in the spring and earlier summer because predators are trying to feed their young.
- Having livestock born inside barns or sheds will usually prevent predation and will also reduce newborn deaths that result from inclement weather.
- Altering livestock birthing times until later in the spring or summer can reduce predation.
- Farmers and ranchers should avoid using pastures that have had a history of predation.
- Pastures that are closer to buildings and human activity can be safer for young livestock.
- Pastures with rough terrain or with dense vegetation bordering them offer cover for predators.
- Farmers and ranchers should be checking on the status and condition of their livestock regularly in order to ensure that predator problems are identified quickly.
- Regularly counting livestock is important in large pastures or areas with heavy cover where dead livestock could remain unnoticed. It is not unusual for livestock producers that don't regularly count their herd to suffer substantial losses before they identify that they have a predator problem.
- Sick, injured or old livestock should be removed from the herd as predators may key in on these animals. Once a predator identifies livestock as easy prey it will likely continue to kill even healthy animals.
- Livestock owners should keep records and identify each animal through tagging or branding to make it easier to identify losses.
- Keep a journal of predator problems. Over time this journal can be used to show areas or time periods in which predator problems peak. Preventative measures can then be taken.
- Remove livestock and poultry carcasses by burying, incinerating or rendering to reduce attractants.
- Refer to Fencing, Livestock Harassment and Predator Control and Prevention.
- Pet food should be kept in an airtight, non-odorous container locked inside residences.
- Pet food should not be left unattended outside. If pet are fed outdoors, bring in the food dish between feedings.
PREDATOR CONTROL and PREVENTION
- Farmers and ranchers can use existing hunting and trapping seasons to control predators.
- Farmers and ranchers must ensure that they comply with all Federal, Provincial and Municipal regulations surrounding hunting, trapping and the discharge of firearms in their area.
- Predation losses can be reduced/minimized by practicing good animal husbandry.
- See Livestock Husbandry.
REPELLENTS and SCARE DEVICES
- The use of repellents and scare devices is based on the idea that predators are repelled by new or strange odours, sights or sounds.
- Predators can adapt quite quickly to scare devices so regularly altering how they are deployed is important.
- Combining different types of scare devices seems to work better than just using one.
- Repellents and scare devices include:
- Propane cannons, horns, sirens, flashing lights and radios with sound amplifiers.
- Presently, the only effective repellent for bears is Capsaicin (red pepper) spray.
- Some scare devices may be prohibited by local bylaws. Contact the local bylaw department before using such products.
SMOKEHOUSES (Native) and RESIDENTIAL SMOKERS
- Ensure that the smoker site is as clean as possible. Fish entrails and by-products shouldnt be left on site.
- Fish entrails that are left on site should be stored in an airtight bear proof container and taken to a landfill as soon as possible.
- Fish cleaning and processing sites should be located away from the smoker site to reduce the intensity of the attractants. Cleaning/processing sites must be kept clean.
- Bears are opportunistic feeders and will be attracted to unclean smoker sites where food is easily obtained.
- Smokehouses can be protected and secured by the installation of electric fencing.
- Smokers and smokehouses should be cleaned after each use.
- Portable smokers should be kept in a bear proof shed or garage while not in use.
- Smoker sites should not be located around area of dense bush. Dense bush acts as cover and provides a sense of security to bears.
- Heavy bush surrounding smoker sites should be removed.
Ministry of Environment. Province of British Columbia
Bear Aware Program. BC Conservation Foundation
BC Parks Bear Safety
Get Bear Smart Society
Margo Supplies Ltd. (Wildlife Management Products)
Vancouver Island Abound Outdoor Pages: Bear and Cougar Safety
Safety Guide to Bears at Your Home. BC Ministry of Environment Wildlife Branch.
BOOKS and RESOURCE MATERIALS
Fencing With Electricity by Brian Kennedy. Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Publishing Branch. 7000-113 Street, Edmonton Alberta T6H 5T6. 1995.
Safety Guide to Bears at Your Home. BC Ministry of Environment Wildlife Branch. Pamphlet.
Safety Guide to Bears in the Wild. BC Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests. Pamphlet.