It’s bear-ly spring but the Teddy Bear’s Picnic is already underway

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
April 7th, 2011

Although the weather may not be aware of the fact, the calendar says it’s now spring. Snow cover or no snow cover, Rossland’s ursine population is hungry and they’re setting out on food finding missions. Careless humans who get in the way may find their spring, summer, or the rest of their lives impacted.
Over the past two weeks the first reports of bear tracks in the snow around Rossland houses started coming in. Just this past weekend a bear was spotted several times making its way through Upper Rossland during the day.
“This Is really not good news,” reinforced local Bear Aware coordinator Sharon Weider.
While it may seem early for bears to waking up, Weider noted that there is a common misconception out there that bears don’t come out until the snow has melted, noting that “It totally depends on a number of factors. A lot of people just think it has to do with when the snow melts but that’s not the whole story. It’s more about how hungry they are that drives them to come out. Since last year wasn’t a very good food year for them, it’s not really surprising that they are out now.”
Not having had to worry about remaining bear aware throughout the winter, Weider hopes people will snap back into bear season habits quickly as these next few weeks and months are perhaps the most critical in terms of whether or not Rossland faces another record year for destroying habituated bears.
“The problem is, of course, when the bears first come out, if they can find a food source in garbage they’ll keep coming back to it and then we’ll have a problem,” explained Weider. “Dumpsters were one of our biggest problems last year. The bears found some dumpsters in town early in the spring and they just hung around and didn’t move on to find their own natural food sources.”
In a pre-emptive strike, Weider is launching a new program designed to dump dumpsters from local bears’ menus.
While it may not be quite as cute, warm or fuzzy as say adopting a whale or even adopting a highway for that matter, Weider’s already got a half dozen people signed to adopt a dumpster this bear season. The Dumpster Deputies program is set up as a Neighborhood Watch-type system, only in this case the objects under surveillance are the various dumpsters about town.
“It’s about people keeping an eye on dumpsters in their area where they live or where they work,” added Weider. “If they notice a problem they are to alert the waste management people or myself so we can get things cleaned up and get people educated before a certain site attracts a bear and becomes a problem.”
With its funding fully supported this year by the City of Rossland, City of Trail, and the BC Conservation Foundation, Bear Aware will be able to offer a full program throughout the bear season. Plans are currently in the works to host a series of workshops touching on popular and bear-related subjects in Rossland and Trail.
Following last year’s bear attacks on a number of chicken coops in and around Rossland, workshops relating to raising chickens in bear country will be on the agenda this summer.
“Chickens, bees and composting are becoming very popular around Rossland, so we’ll be getting out there to host some workshops on how to help people keep bears out of their bees or chickens or compost.”
While many Rosslanders may be in denial about spring’s arrival, this week the time for spring cleaning and bear proofing our yards is back. As we say good morning to our slumbering neighbours, Weider left us with one tip for the week to make the bears’ transition back into summer mode a problem-free one.
“Really keep an extra close eye on your garbage. It’s time to take the birdfeeders in. Get your compost turned over and get some brown stuff added to it. This time of year it’s hard to find browns with the snow still down, so I even suggest putting some paper down as a temporary solution.”

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