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Castlegar bear activity picking up

As bears sightings become more frequent around Castlegar, it’s all the more important to keep an eye on potential attractants.

That’s according to WildsafeBC co-ordinator Tara Pejski, who says things started off quiet this year thanks to a good berry crop, resulting in bears staying longer in their natural habitat.

“Now getting into fall their appetites are picking up and there is increased bear activity in town,” she said.

While she didn’t have the latest figures handy, she said conservation officers have euthanized at least four bears in the area this year, a typical figure.

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“We have a lot of bears who live in town and have become quite habituated,” she said. “A habituated bear is more dangerous, which is why it’s important to manage attractants.”

The No. 1 attractant remains garbage. WildSafeBC patrols at night to make sure people aren’t leaving garbage out before 4 a.m. and puts stickers on any bins placed on the curb prematurely.

She said the year started out well on that front as well, but heading into fall, they have seen an increase in bins put out early. Pejski said they need to be locked and secured until the morning of collection.

Castlegar recently started a curbside organics program, which means another bin to be kept clean and secure. Pejski said if you don’t have a garage or shed, the bin can be strapped or chained to a tree or solid post.

While any waste will have a scent, she said there are things you can do to minimize odors, such as rinsing your bins regularly with a borax mix and avoided scented cleaners, such as lemon or orange, “that can smell really delicious” to wildlife.

The same items that attract bears also attract other species such as rats, skunks and raccoons, she said, and there has been an increase in rat complaints lately.

Pejski said their fruit-picking program, Harvest Match Castlegar, has picked up this year. Anyone with fruit or nut trees they are unable to pick can go onto a Facebook site and find people looking for fruit to pick. Fruit trees are another leading attractant, Pejski said.

WildsafeBC will also offer free bear spray workshops that will teach you about staying safe in bear country and let you practice using the spray. The dates will be posted online.

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