Let’s keep our wildlife wild and our citizens safe.
Is a bear causing problems in your neighbourhood? Please report any bear conflicts to the Conservation Officer Service’s toll-free RAPP line (1-877-952-7277).
Contact coordinator Debb Read by email.
Staying Wild and Wise in Sooke
by Debb Read
Spring has arrived and hungry bears are looking for food. It is time to be diligent in cleaning up your yard and securing attractions. If your home is in Sooke, chances are good that you have bears for neighbors. How well you get along with these somewhat gluttonous neighbors depends on you. Although bears are generally shy and usually avoid humans, they are opportunistic and will search for human food supplies when natural foods are not available, or when they are easy to obtain.
Is your residence free of food odors that may attract a hungry bear’s attention? Garbage, bird food, pet food, fruit trees, and outdoor grills are the most common bear invitations.
A general approach to wildlife conflicts where you live is to go over in your mind: Is there something that is bringing the wildlife into my living space?
First, ask yourself “what has attracted the bear to my yard?”
Second, call the Conservation officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
We live in bear country and should learn to expect to deal with bears in Sooke – no matter what part of the community you live in. Preventing and/or reducing conflict with bears, necessarily means managing your own human activity and behavior.
The Black Bear is an intelligent animal, with the ability to remember food locations and can quickly become accustomed to human sources of food.
If they have had luck finding food, some bears lose their fear and start visiting regularly looking for something to eat. These bears can become persistent.
People who don’t manage their garbage are creating problems for everyone.
A bear in your yard should never be a welcome sight. You must take quick action to eliminate attractants after the bear is gone. A bear that finds food once is likely to return to that spot. A returning bear will learn that the food is no longer available and will seek a meal elsewhere if you eliminate the food source.
Store garbage in a secure building, until collection day. Do not leave your garbage outside . If you cannot, store garbage securely, freeze smelly itemsRemember——-to change the behavior of bears, we must first change our own. Don’t wait until you have a problem to do something about it. It is our responsibility if we choose to live in bear country to learn how to live with bears.
The message is, be responsible…first, be very diligent not to give bears any access to food, garbage, chickens, livestock, fruit trees, dog food, bird feeders or any type of attractants. This is an effective and proven, long-term solution for reducing human-bear conflicts. The program relies upon everyone in all neighbourhoods working co-operatively to build more sustainable and safer communities.
Remember the importance of reporting human-bear conflicts to the Conservation Officer Service’s toll-free RAPP line (1-877-952-7277). In most cases they simply track the movements and habits of bears through the reported sightings, It is really important to call the CO Service so that the information about the whereabouts of bears gets to the right people, including being sent to Wild Wise Sooke We then can provides education about reducing conflict with bears.
Manage Your Attractants!
Bears and the Kitchen Scraps Program
Wild Wise Sooke has been actively posting bear sighting and locations encouraging Sooke residents to be bear aware, manage their attractions, and keep garbage indoors. Everyone is talking about bears this year in Sooke. Wild Wise Sooke is hoping that this awareness will remind Sooke residents to Be Bear Wise.
This year many people are getting used to the new kitchen scrap program and containers. Some people say we have more bears in Sooke this year and some say this is because of the kitchen scraps. Debb Read says, ‘This year’s bear numbers are the same as the year before and the year before that. We always have bears coming into Sooke this time of year”.
We have always had the same amount of garbage, except now we are separating it. Our garbage has always gone to curb side for pick up, but now we are putting the kitchen scraps bucket there too. Our responsibility is the same, do not put garbage out the night before collection day and do not store any type of garbage outside. Keep all containers clean and stored inside, not outside the backdoor or on the deck.
Tips for the Kitchen Scrap Program
– Wild Wise Sooke suggests you keep the kitchen scrap container in your freezer. If kept frozen there is no smell in your house or smell for the bears. On collection day, it is odor free to be left at curb side.
– Keep garbage and kitchen scrap containers behind closed doors in your garage, basement or storage area. Garbage and kitchen scrap containers that are left in open carports or in your backyard is an easy target for bears, and other rodents like rats and raccoons.
· Put your garbage and kitchen scraps out on the morning of collection day and not the night before.
· If you take your garbage to the dump yourself, make sure that it is stored behind closed doors and take it to the dump on a frequent basis, especially in hot weather.
– Thoroughly clean your garbage and kitchen scrap containers every 2-3 days. Bears can smell garbage from 2 km away. Rinse them frequently. Regular cleaning with vinegar and hot water or a mild biodegradable detergent is especially important during warmer months. Clean residue off the rim and outside of your tote as well. Fly eggs and maggots can be killed by using boiling water or sprinkling them with vinegar.
– Keep the lid of your kitchen scraps container & curbside tote tightly closed. This will help prevent odors that will attract bears, which can smell garbage up to 2 km.
– Avoid stockpiling garbage, as this is a good way to attract bears. Empty your kitchen scraps container frequently.If you have garbage pickup, Place your curbside tote at the curb every collection day – even if it is not full. This will ensure you have enough space in your tote each week and help to reduce odours.
– Warmer weather can increase odour problems, so keep the tote out of the sun.
– Use paper to line the bottom of your kitchen scraps container & curbside tote: line the bottom of your kitchen scraps container with a paper towel and your tote with newspaper to help absorb odours and moisture and ease in cleanup. Remember that soiled paper products (towels, plates, napkins, cups, etc.) are also accepted in the program. In really hot weather, try layering a few sheets of newspaper or cardboard in your tote.
– Freeze meat & fish scraps until your collection day. They could be further wrapped in newspaper before being put into the kitchen container or tote. This will limit odor problems and reduce the risk of insects in your Tote.
– Keep odors at a minimum the natural way. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda, garden lime, biodegradable laundry detergent, or vinegar in your kitchen container and curbside tote as a deodorizer.
Remember – to change the behavior of bears, we must first change our own. Do not wait until you have a problem to do something about it. It is our responsibility if we choose to live in bear country to learn how to live with bears.
Debb Read – Wild Wise Sooke Community Coordinator