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Six bears killed in Castlegar this year

Although it has BearSmart status, Castlegar has had a busy year for bears so far, with 101 complaints and six black bears euthanized.

City corporate officer Tracey Butler, who heads up bylaw enforcement, told council this week that those figures were as of July 28.

Seventy-seven per cent of calls related to garbage or fruit and nut trees, common bear attractants.

The city has issued six bylaw infraction tickets this year to repeat offenders and issued five warnings.

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By contrast, Trail only had three or four bears put down as of the same date, Butler said.

“It was a very busy spring,” Castlegar WildSafeBC co-ordinator Tara Pejski confirmed in an interview.

“Lots of bears came down and were getting into garbage. Now things have slowed down a little bit but I’ve had reports the wild berry crops are very poor this year. So we’re expecting a very busy fall as well.”

Pejski said they are stressing the importance of managing trees that attract bears.

“Pick up fruit on the ground, take it off the tree and bushes as soon as it’s ripe. If you don’t need it, we can help you find an organization or an individual who would appreciate it.

“Even if you don’t think people would want it, some local farmers might appreciate it for their livestock. There are lots of options out there.”

Pejski said she is working with the city on developing a harvest rescue program, with an announcement expected soon.

She added that failing to keep attractants in check will result in more habituated bears, which makes life more dangerous for bears and people alike.

Pejki said food sources that attract bears will also lure skunks, raccoons, and rats, as well as deer, which can in turn bring cougars.

“It’s not just making sure we’re preventing bears from getting access, but all wildlife,” she said.

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