It’s 11:15pm and I have just returned home from one of my jobs as Revelstoke Bear Aware Coordinator – garbage tagging (formally garbage raids). To perform a garbage tagging I check to see which area in Revelstoke has garbage pick up the next day, then I head out for a drive. I drive up and down each street in search for garbage cans that have made it to the curb some 7 to 9 hours early. It’s dark and quiet, there are often a few people walking out on the street. I feel a bit like a spy as I sneak up to a can and attach a large florescent yellow sticker saying “Bear Attractant”. As I head up to a house to add a letter explaining what I am doing, a bright light (motion light) comes on and I feel like I’m surrounded and have been caught. I jump in my car and drive away! But in actual fact in all cases when a person has caught me, they have always been friendly and listen to what I had to say. The time that I ran into a bear, well, luckily the bear was just passing through a section of the street where no one had put their garbage out the night before and still a healthy bear, took off like a bolt.
The role of Revelstoke Bear Aware is to reduce conflict between bears and people. The way we do this is to look for new and innovative ways to educate on the importance of removing, or securing items that attract bears to our community. The number one attractant that draws bears into our community is garbage! While garbage tagging in not new, having been done for the past almost 10 years and I must admit not my favourite job, it has proven to be effective in raising awareness of the city’s curbside restriction bylaw and reducing the garbage available to bears. With each additional tagging event in a given area there are fewer cans put out the night before the following week.
The City of Revelstoke was one of the first cities in BC in 1996 to adopt a curbside restriction bylaw. Garbage Collection Bylaw No. 1759 states that standard garbage containers shall be placed on the street only between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on the day of collection. This prevents a bear that is wandering through the neighbourhood at night from finding a smorgasbord of food waiting all along the street. While most residents adhere to the bylaw, there has been an increase in the past couple of years of residents that are putting their garbage out the night before.
As the saying goes “a fed bear is a dead bear”, so please keep your garbage in a secure place, a garage, a sturdy shed or the basement, between pickups and don’t put your garbage out the night before. For residents who have limited ability for securing garbage, will be away or have missed garbage collection day, there is a dumpster available at the public works yard during business hours.
If you are one of the residents who is waking up to a find the bright yellow sticker on your garbage can, remember this is just a friendly reminder of your responsibility living in bear country. By keep your garbage secure we keep our local bear population healthy and our community safe.
If you have any questions about how to be Bear Aware, or would like to be a Bear Aware volunteer, please call 250-837-8624 or visit www.revelstokebearaware.org.
Penny Page Brittin is Revelstoke’s Bear Aware co-ordinator