Not all of our ursine friends are hibernating, says Bear Aware Coordinator Janette Vickers.
As of December 2, a black bear continues to roam in the Arrow Heights area searching for food. At least three bears have been reported in Columbia Park, Downtown and Arrow Heights throughout November and into December. Reports of bear sightings in the last two years have begun in early April and have been made well into December. Bears are in Revelstoke nine months of the year.
In a news release issued on Friday, Vickers said many residents do not realize that bears are still active in our community during early winter and become complacent in managing bear attractants once there is snow on the ground.
2011 has been a very busy year for bears in and around Revelstoke, with sightings reported in every neighborhood. So far, there has been a total of 297 reports concerning both grizzly bears and black bears made to the Provincial RAPP line and to the Revelstoke Bear Aware, compared with 206 reports in 2010 and 42 reports in 2009. Reported bear sightings add to our knowledge base, which allows Revelstoke Bear Aware to direct public education initiatives.
By reporting bear activity, attractants that bring bears into our community can be identified and removed. If bear attractants are removed early it can prevent bears from becoming habituated, food conditioned and decreases the potential of a public safety hazard.
The top bear attractants in 2011 include garbage, fruit trees and livestock, followed by pet food, outdoor freezers and fridges, compost, birdfeeders, and vegetable gardens.
Ten black bears have been destroyed so far this year in Revelstoke, which is above the annual average of seven per year since Bear Aware began in 1996. Nine of the black bears destroyed were habituated and food-conditioned to garbage, fruit trees or livestock and one black bear was destroyed after it killed a dog in front of its owners.
Revelstoke Bear Aware had many successes in 2011:
- Bear Smart: Revelstoke Bear Aware is working on the 5 actions needed to attain Provincial Bear Smart Status in Revelstoke.
- Bear-proof garbage bins: Bear Aware continues to campaign for citywide residential bear-proof garbage bins.
- Google Earth Map: Residents can view an updated Google Earth Map to see recent bear sightings at www.revelstokebearaware.org.
- The Gleaning Project: This initiative saw many volunteers picking fruit to decrease bear attractants as well as donating fruit to Community Connections Food Bank. About 920 pounds of fruit was donated this year.
- Garbage Tagging: Bear Aware teamed up with the Ministry of Forests to conduct garbage tagging campaigns in every neighbourhood. Residents who put garbage cans on the curb the night before pick up may have had a “Bear Attractant” sticker placed on their garbage cans as a reminder to store garbage properly.
- Festivals and Community Events: Bear Aware attended many local events and festivals this year including the Fair Trade Festival, Chickadee Nature Festival, Kokanee Fish Festival, Harvest Palooza and our Saturday Markets.
- Presentations: Bear Aware presentations were made at all 4 elementary schools this year as well as at summer camps and preschools.
- Door-to-Door: Bear Aware went door-to-door this year to discuss managing bear attractants.
Revelstoke Bear Aware would like to thank the Columbia Basin Trust and the British Columbia Conservation Foundation for the funding they provided to the 2011 program. Thank you to the Conservation Officer Service, the Ministry of Forests, and the City of Revelstoke for their valuable support. Revelstoke Bear Aware also appreciates the ongoing in-kind support from Parks Canada and for the creation of the Google Earth Map. Also, thank you to our local media for their continued support in communicating the Bear Aware message to residents of Revelstoke. Finally, a big thanks to the many volunteers that made this year’s program so successful!
Although bears are heading into their winter dens, Revelstoke Bear Aware will continue to work through the winter months. At this time of year the annual report is completed (soon to be seen on our website at www.revelstokebearaware.org) and funding requirements as well as work plans for 2012 are determined. This will ensure the Bear Aware message continues to reach the residents of Revelstoke including the many newcomers and visitors to our community.