Bear Aware publishes its 2015 Annual Report
Executive Summary (for the full report please click here – 3.4 MB PDF download)
The focus of Revelstoke Bear Aware in 2015 was threefold: to work towards the development of a bear resistant garbage collection system; to reduce the availability of garbage and unmanaged fruit to bears in the town; and to continue our diverse outreach programs to reduce human-bear conflicts and educate the community about reducing bear attractants.
2015 was a relatively quiet year for Revelstoke Bear Aware. There were 102 reports concerning black bears and 2 reports concerning grizzly bears bringing the total number of bear reports in Revelstoke and the surrounding Area B of the CSRD to 104 in 2015. The Conservation Officer Service destroyed 1 black bear in 2015, and residents destroyed two further bears. Two bears were destroyed as a result of becoming conditioned to eating garbage; the other bear was destroyed as a result of repeatedly breaking into a chicken coop. There were several incidents where bears destroyed property and 3 confirmed cases of bears showing aggression towards humans. The first sighting of a bear in 2015 was on the 24th of March and the last sighting was on 14th of December.
Garbage continues to be the number one attractant for bears in Revelstoke with 29 bear sightings associated with garbage as an attractant. Most reports that concerned aggressive bears also concerned garbage.
The city has not yet chosen to implement a bear resistant garbage collection system in Revelstoke. Revelstoke Bear Aware and the Conservation Officer Service agree that implementation of a bear resistant garbage system must be a priority before there is an incident concerning human safety. 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.
Although unmanaged fruit trees are usually a common attractant for bears in Revelstoke, this year fruit trees attracted relatively few bears. There were three instances where bears attacked chicken coops. Pet food, compost, an outdoor freezer, a barbecue, fertilizer, and grain on railway tracks were also reported as attracting bears this season.
Revelstoke Bear Aware delivered 24 presentations, contributed to 3 City Council meetings, attended 6 public events, and presented at 2 Garden Guru workshops. We also held an electric fencing workshop soon after it was announced that using electric fences to protect small livestock and fruit trees was an allowed activity within the city limits. Through these events we reached a total 1323 people.
A door-to-door campaign was conducted throughout the year and 372 houses were visited with either a personal communication of information left at the door.
The Revelstoke Bear Aware website received 6845 visitors who collectively viewed 13,243 pages on the site. A Facebook page was created and ended the season with more than 350 “likes”. Seventy-six posts were made to the page throughout the season generating around 81,500 post views. Numerous posts regarding attractant management and the Gleaning Project were made to the Stoke List (a community web list). Revelstoke Bear Aware issued 6 press releases, had 9 articles published, and gave 9 radio interviews.
The Gleaning Project collaborated with the Local Food Initiative (LFI) this year to collect 1580lb. of excess fruit from the community, of which 909lb. was donated to the food bank as either fresh or preserved fruit. The role of Bear Aware was primarily to find the fruit and provide a volunteer workforce through our door-to-door campaign and other advertising strategies, while the LFI coordinator managed most of the harvest and the preservation of the fruit.
Bear in Area lawn signs were again deployed in areas where bear activity had been reported. Feedback continues to suggest that the signs are very effective at raising awareness and reminding people to secure attractants. Signs were deployed 51 times during the season, for an average of around 5 days at a time giving a total of 254 sign/days in 2015. In addition, signs were loaned to several campgrounds and resorts so that staff could deploy signs when bears were seen in their area.
Garbage cans left out overnight in contravention of the Solid Waste and Recycling Bylaw (#2006) were tagged with a sticker informing the owner that garbage is a bear attractant and asking them to secure their can until collection day. Twenty-two garbage cans were tagged in 2015.
Included in this report are recommendations for 2016. Key recommendations are summarised below.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to implement an outreach program to educate the residents of Revelstoke and newcomers about reducing human-bear conflict.
- The City implements a bear resistant garbage collection system to replace the current system, beginning with centralized bins for mobile home parks.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware works with the City to provide education to residents regarding a new bear resistant garbage collection system if such is installed.
- City initiate a wildlife attractant bylaw covering garbage, unmanaged fruit, birdfeeders, outdoor fridges and freezers, barbeques, pet food, chickens and chicken feed, compost, and beehives.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues its fruit attractant reduction strategies, including encouraging the City to remove wild fruit trees from City property.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to urge the provincial government for the return of at least one Conservation Officer stationed in Revelstoke.
The Revelstoke Bear Aware program is strongly supported by volunteers. This year 44 volunteers gave a total of 224 volunteer hours to Revelstoke Bear Aware.