2016 was a busy — and tragic — year for our ursine neighbours

2016 was a very active — and tragic — year for Revelstoke Bear Aware, Coordinator Maggie Spizzirri reported in her first year in review.

“There were 638 reports concerning black bears reported to Revelstoke Bear Aware and the conservation officer service and four reports of grizzly bears in 2016,” she said. “The Conservation Officer Service destroyed 24 black bears in 2016, and there were unconfirmed instances of residents destroying further bears. There was one cub sent to the Northern Lights Rehabilitation Centre. Fortunately the cub was not food conditioned or habituated so he was the only candidate for rehabilitation.

“There were several incidents where bears destroyed property, including fences, breaking doors and tearing siding off houses. Bears were also breaking into locked and unlocked vehicles this year and there were 7 confirmed cases of bears showing aggression towards humans specifically in the downtown and Kovach park areas. The first sighting of a bear in 2016 was on the 11th of April and the last bear reported so far was on December 31, 2016.”

Garbage continues to be the No. 1 attractant for bears in Revelstoke with 67% of bear sightings associated with garbage. Half of the destroyed bears were killed as a direct result of becoming conditioned to eating garbage. Most reports that concerned aggressive bears also concerned garbage.

She said the City has not yet chosen to implement a bear -esistant garbage collection system. Bear Aware and the CO Service agree that the implementation of a bear-resistant garbage system must be a priority before there is a a more serious human-safety incident. “Revelstoke Bear Aware recommends that the process of bear proofing the garbage system should begin in mobile home parks where installation of centralized bear resistant bins is relatively easy and may even be more cost-effective per house than curbside pickup from every house,” Spizzirri said.

Unmanaged fruit and nut trees were another major attractant for bears in Revelstoke in 2016. There were two instances where bears attacked chicken coops. Outdoor freezers were also reported as attracting bears this season.

The City is currently drawing up a Wildlife Attractant Bylaw to cover the issues related to unmanaged fruit trees and other attractants. Bear Aware has recommended such a bylaw to the City for years.

“We are hopeful that this bylaw will be passed this spring,” Spoizzirri said. “This bylaw will bring Revelstoke one step closer to becoming a Bear Smart community. Implementing a city-wide bear resistant garbage system will be the final task.”

Revelstoke Bear Aware will be launching a new Bear Necessities public-education program this year.

“We will continue with the popular Gleaning Program in partnership with the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative. We will also be implementing our other long-running education initiatives. You will see us at the Farmers’ Markets, in the schools, and on social media.”

Please click here to read the 2016 year in review.

The Revelstoke Bear Aware Society invites the community to attend its 2017 Annual General Meeting on April 20th at 6:30 pm at the Community Centre. The meeting will last about one hour and will be a great opportunity to have some input into the society and to support the society by purchasing a 2017 membership (single $10, family $20).

Revelstoke Bear Aware Society would like to thank BC Gaming, CBT, Lush Cosmetics, Revelstoke Credit Union, Revelstoke Community Foundation, Parks Canada, Lisa Longinotto of Williamson Lake Campground and Bresco for their support of the Revelstoke Bear Aware Program.

To report bear sightings or conflicts with bears please call the 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952 RAPP (7277). To get the latest information about bears in Revelstoke, visit the society’s website or follow Revelstoke Bear Aware on Facebook.