Garbage bins attracting bears in West Kelowna

According to Wildsafe BC, there have been 22 bear sightings in West Kelowna Estates since August 26th.

A resident of West Kelowna says this year has been particularly bad for bear sightings in his neighbourhood.

Dave Calder lives in West Kelowna Estates, and he explained a surprising number of people are leaving their garbage on the edge of their driveways the night before pickup, which is a major attractant for bears.

“There is a bylaw in place that says you can’t put your garbage out until seven in the morning,” he described.  “You can’t put it out the night before.  The reason for that is that it attracts bears, which creates a safety issue, and the bears become conditioned to the garbage as the easiest source of food.  Then the bear is inevitably destroyed.”

The bylaw, No. 0065, reads, Unless exempted by the Director of Engineering for reasons of physical disability, all Garbage, Yard Waste and Recyclables Carts shall be made readily accessible and with lids unlocked…for emptying, between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on the day of collection only.’  Calder and a team of volunteers monitored the number of garbage bins put out the night before in their neighbourhood, and left informative brochures on the ones they came across.  However, Calder was quick to point out they didn’t want to be confrontational; they have no intentions of reporting anyone, they simply want to educate and make sure everyone is aware of the issue.

Later that night, a volunteer drove down Horizon Drive at 1am and took note of how many garbage bins were already on the street.  The volunteer found 30% of homes already had garbage bins out – a number Calder said is far too high.  Calder explained bear safety is a serious issue this time of year, and just on Tuesday afternoon, the first day of the new school year, he was told of a black bear in a pool just a few blocks from an elementary school.

This time of year is when black bears are most active as they forage for food in preparation for hibernation, which they usually begin in October or November.  Calder is hopeful most people will hear the message about limiting bear attractants to not only make their community safer, but also protect the bears as well.