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Keeping black bears at bay


Black bears are making their way into backyards as they search for food
Black bears are making their way into backyards as they search for food

Hilary Hagerman, staff writer

April 28, 2012 — It's warming up across Canada -- and that means bears are starting to come out of hibernation.

A schaffer bin is a good option for people who don't have a garage to keep garbage in
A schaffer bin is a good option for people who don't have a garage to keep garbage in

People are already starting to have close encounters with bears in populated areas. On Friday, students at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado got an unwanted visitor when a black bear was caught roaming around campus. A couple of weeks ago, a California man was caught off guard by a black bear in an alley.

"It's a really important time for bears, because they're coming out of hibernation and they're hungry," explains Christine Miller from the North Shore Black Bear Society in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

Bears are starting to creep into populated areas, including backyards, to look for new sources of food -- especially if they find something they like. "If people have things on their property that attract the bears there and provide them with rewards, they'll decide it's a pretty fine territory to establish," Miller says. "They'll become frequent visitors, and we don't want that."

Officials in North Vancouver have started selling a "schaffer bin" with modified clasps to keep bears out.

"It's a very good option for people who don't have a garage to store their garbage in," says Miller. "It's been tested on grizzly bears -- so we know it's effective if they don't have unlimited time to work."

Miller cautions that no matter what precautionary equipment is used, a bear can most likely get into it if they have enough time to work on it -- so keep your eyes peeled for intruders.

Here are other helpful tips to keep your yard bear free:

  • Wash your garbage can with a solution of vinigar and water and store it in the garage
  • Freeze highly odorous garbage and only put it out the mornig of pick up
  • Don't keep pet food outside and feed your pets inside
  • Keep barbeques odor free by burning them on high for 10 minutes and scrubbing them, and storing them in a secure shed or garage if possible
  • If you have fruit trees, keep the ground underneath clear of fruit
  • As fruit ripens, pick it promptly
  • Cover compost with at least 30 cm of soil

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