Bears now emerging from hibernation

It’s that time of year when bears start to poke their heads out of their dens in search of food and water.

Provincial Coordinator for WildSafeBC, Frank Ritcey says that over the past few weeks there have been several reports of bears throughout the lower half of the province.

According to the WildSafeBC Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), no bears have been reported in the Kimberley area so far.

Ritcey says that at this time of year bears start to emerge from hibernation to stretch their legs, get a drink of water, and they will typically head back to their den for a few more weeks.

“From now until the end of April is when bears will come out of hibernation, but most of them will tend to stay out towards the end of April,” Ritcey said. “In certain parts of the province, like along the coast where winter is mild and the weather is good, bears don’t necessarily hibernate at all. Especially the males. If their food sources are abundant there is no need for them to hibernate.”

Ritcey explained that when bears do come out of hibernation, first and foremost they are in search of water.

“They don’t tend to feed heavily right away, because they haven’t eaten in four months or so,” said Ritcey. “It’s not like in the summer when they are constantly eating. They will sort of poke around, take a look around, and if there isn’t enough food available they will go back in to hibernation.”

Although it is important to secure your garbage from wildlife all year round, Ritcey says it is especially important in the spring.

“You don’t want to let the bears start off on the wrong foot,” Ritcey explained. “If they come out of hibernation only to get into human food and garbage, they will be more likely to return to those places for the rest of the season.”

Ritcey says it’s equally as important to make sure to take your bird feeders down in the spring as well.

“Many people feed the birds in the winter, and sometimes forget to take down their feeders come spring,” said Ritcey. “Bird seed contains a lot of calories, which is what the bears will be looking for.”

WildSafe BC stats say that garbage accounts for 60 per cent of their calls regarding bears. They recommend the following to ensure the safety of both humans and wildlife:

* Store garbage in a secure building until collection day or consider purchasing a bear-resistant household container.

* Ensure bins are tightly closed.

*Regularly wash all recycling items and clean the bins that contain garbage or recycling.

*Do not leave garbage in the back of a truck, even if it has a Canopy.

*If you cannot store garbage securely, freeze smelly items and add to the bin only on the morning go collection.

The City of Kimberley also has a bylaw which states garbage bins are not to be put out before 5a.m. on the morning of collection.

WildSafe BC also says it’s important to feed pets indoors, to keep a healthy compost free of fish, meat, fat, oils, un-rinsed eggshells or any cooked food, to regularly clean barbecues after use, and always pick fruit trees as they ripen (do not allow windfall to accumulate on the ground).

For more information, visit the WildSafe BC Website.

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