Wildlife conservation officers are advising the public to keep their garbage secure and ensure that their fruit trees are picked as bears prepare for their hibernation season. (File photo)

Wildlife conservation officers checking to ensure bear rules being followed in Cowichan

Those with unlocked garbage or unpicked fruit trees can be fined

Expect to see wildlife conservation officers in neighbourhoods across the Cowichan Valley this fall ensuring that people are following the rules around not attracting bears.

It’s that time of year again when bears are out and about looking to stock up on snacks before heading off to hibernate, and Sgt. Scott Norris of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said they often target unsecured garbage containers and unpicked fruit trees.

RELATED STORY: BEAR COMPLAINTS NEARLY DOUBLE ACROSS B.C.

He said that, under the Wildlife Act, all garbage containers must be locked up or people can face a $230 fine.

“Placing a brick or bungee cords on the lids of garbage containers is not enough,” Norris said.

“The garbage containers must either be in a garage, storage shed or some other area that is not accessible to wildlife until collection day or, if people don’t have such an area, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and private companies sell locking lids for totes.”

Norris also said the CVRD has a new bylaw, which is separate from the Wildlife Act, which states that unlocked garbage is not allowed to be placed on the curb until 5 a.m. on collection days.

He said that in cases where conservation officers come across garbage that has been spread all over the ground after a bear had gone through it looking for snacks, they can issue a dangerous wildlife protection order to the owner of the garbage and if they come back and the problem still persists, a $575 ticket can be issued.

RELATED STORY: TWO CASES OF FEEDING BEARS BEING INVESTIGATED IN B.C.

As for fruit trees, Norris said people who have them on their properties are required to pick ripe fruit from the trees and remove the fruit that has fallen to the ground.

Those found not to have done so can receive a $230 fine.

“We have had conservation officers at farmers’ markets, fairs and other public events all summer handing out literature on these issues, so we won’t be lenient where we know people have been educated,” Norris said.

“These laws are intended to keep the bears and the public safe.”

People are asked to report bear sightings, particularly those who are seen getting into people’s garbage and/or exhibiting threatening behaviour, by calling 1-877-952-7277.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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