March 29, 2016 3:41 pm
Updated: March 29, 2016 10:13 pm

First sighting by North Shore Black Bear Society prompts warning

WATCH: Conservation officers are warning it's already time to put away the bird feeders and lock up the garbage. As Ted Chernecki reports, hibernating bears are up early this year.

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The North Shore Black Bear Society is warning the public to take better care of their garbage as bears are starting to wake up from hibernation.

Education Coordinator Christine Miller says their first sighting this season came on Monday morning in the Riverside Drive area of North Vancouver.

A home owner spotted a black bear that broke into a storage container outside her house and was rummaging through the scraps.

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Miller says it’s not unprecedented to see bears in the area at this time of year, but every season is different. Last year, the first sighting came in June, but in 2014, bears were spotted waking up from their hibernation as early as April.

The society says more than 1,000 bears are killed every year in B.C. because of human-bear conflicts at a cost of over $1 million. Most of these bears are attracted to residential areas by improperly stored garbage and other attractants.

“We are repeating the same attractant management message that we give out year-round,” says Miller. “And that’s keeping the odorous kitchen scraps in the freezer until they are collected, managing the compost well and not having any bird feeders or pet food out.”

She says educating people to be more bear-aware has made a huge difference, especially on the North Shore.

“People have really come a very long way in their understanding and their willingness to inconvenience themselves to manage the attractants,” she adds.

Tips from the North Shore Black Bear Society on making your house bear-proof:  

  • Put your garbage at curbside on the morning of pick-up only.
  • Store your garbage bins in the house, in a garage or in a bear-resistant container.
  • Clean your garbage bins on a regular basis with a bleach, ammonia or vinegar solution.
  • Freeze the skin, bones and leftovers of fish and meat and the packaging until the morning of garbage pickup.
  • Consider modifying your Schaefer bin if you use one.
  • Purchase a bear-resistant bin.
  • Some people make their bird feeders inaccessible to bears while others feed only small amounts of high quality seed at a time. Other residents choose to take down bird feeders during bear season as there is plenty of natural food for birds at that time. Some people attract birds by providing a flower garden, bird bath, dusting site, or nesting boxes.
  • A healthy compost requires equal proportions of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Greens include fruits and vegetable scraps, fresh grass clippings, plant trimmings, coffee grounds and tea bags. Brown materials include fallen leaves, sawdust, torn up paper egg cartons, rolls from toilet paper and paper towels, paper towels, napkins and coffee filters. Eggshells that have been washed well and crushed can also be added.
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