Bear Aware publishes its 2020 Annual Report
Executive Summary (for the full report please click here: 2020 Annual Report)
Like for the rest of the world, 2020 was an unprecedented year for Revelstoke Bear Aware Society. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting in March, our program had to make changes to continue to be able to offer education to help keep bears wild and our community safe. An active bear year commenced with 260 reports concerning black bears made to Revelstoke Bear Aware and the Conservation Officer service. The Conservation Officer Service destroyed 7 black bears in 2020. There were 9 incidents where bears broke into houses and destroyed property and 4 instances where a bear walked into a business. The first reported bear sighting in 2020 was on April 17 and the last reported bear sighting was on December 17, 2020.
Garbage continues to be the number one attractant for bears in Revelstoke with 63% of bear sightings being associated with garbage as an attractant. All of the destroyed bears were killed as a result of becoming conditioned to eating garbage. This year Revelstoke Bear Aware continued a cost share program to remove barriers for residents looking to purchase a bear resistant storage bin. Bear resistant storage bins were offered at Revelstoke Home Hardware with a $300 discount funded by Revelstoke Bear Aware. This program was very well received.
Unmanaged fruit trees were another common attractant for bears in Revelstoke. Our Gleaning Project was extremely active this year and we gleaned a record amount of trees. In 2020 people were encouraged to pick their own trees and donate their fruit to the project as it was difficult to keep up with demand. Revelstoke Bear Aware harvested 1970 lbs of fruit, of which 450 lbs were donated to the Food Bank as either fresh or preserved fruit. The new Fruit Share website (www.revelstokefruitshare.com) saw 350 people come together to chat and share their trees. The coordinator-led Gleaning Program will be reserved for people who are unable to pick their own trees where the Fruit Share Program will be available for those who are able to pick their own fruit but would like to instead share their fruit with the community.
Due to the pandemic, Revelstoke Bear Aware attended only 3 farmers markets.
A different approach was taken for the door-to-door campaigns. Door-to-door campaigns were launched throughout the entire year. As in-person contacts were not possible, sanitized information and pamphlets were left at door steps and mail slots throughout the community as we followed high bear activity areas.
2020 also saw a change in the garbage tagging campaigns. From June to October, volunteers place information stickers on household garbage cans that placed at the curb on the night before scheduled municipal garbage pickups. This program had positive results, with less garbage being available to bears.
The Revelstoke Bear Aware social media channels generated over 188,902 post views for the season. Numerous posts regarding attractant management and the Gleaning Project were made to the Stoke List and Revelstoke Community Facebook pages.
Bear in Area lawn signs were deployed in areas where bears 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 95 times during the season, for an average of around 5 days at a time giving a total of 475 sign/days in 2020. In addition, signs were loaned to several campgrounds and resorts so that staff could deploy signs when bears were seen in their area.
It would not have been possible to deliver the Revelstoke Bear Aware program to so many members of the community without the support from volunteers. This year 44 volunteers gave a total of 160 volunteer hours to Revelstoke Bear Aware.
Included in this report are recommendations for 2021. Key recommendations are summarized below:
- Follow the progress of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s move to create an organic waste disposal system in Revelstoke. Investigate what this organic waste disposal program will mean for bear-resistant garbage disposal in town.
- Continue to promote communal garbage bins in trailer parks and new developments.
- Continue to offer the bear resistant storage bin cost-share program as an option for home owners.
- Implement a strategy to educate short-term renters.
- Implement a strategy to educate newcomers to town.
Fruit Tree Management
- Continue to operate the Gleaning Project, to ensure unused fruit is available to our community and does not become a bear attractant. The Gleaning Project will be available to those who are unable to pick their own fruit for two years per household.
- Promote the online fruit share application so that gleaners and people with excess fruit can connect independently of the Gleaning Project. The fruit share website will be available to those who are able or unable to pick their own fruit but would like to share with the community.
- Provide a fruit tree removal cost share program to encourage people who are not managing their fruit trees to remove their trees.
- Continue to list unmanaged residential fruit trees, with the aim of assisting enforcement of the City’s Garbage
- Collection and Wildlife Attractant Bylaw (No. 2178).
- Continue to identify unmanaged fruit trees on City property and lands managed by other agencies, and request removal of these fruit trees.
- Continue to offer our Bear Aware Affair which will include sessions about pruning fruit trees and setting up electric fencing.
- Continue to promote Park’s Canada’s bear awareness sessions.
- Provide online video tutorials and resources for fruit tree pruning and management.
The Revelstoke Bear Aware Society would like to express gratitude to the following organizations for financial contributions made to Revelstoke Bear Aware in 2020: