Black bears drop in for long weekend

  • May. 24, 2011 8:00 p.m.
This bear helped himself on Saturday to sunflower seeds from a bird feeder in the upper Lakeshore Drive area. The conservation office asks that residents don't feed birds this time of year as it attracts bears.

This bear helped himself on Saturday to sunflower seeds from a bird feeder in the upper Lakeshore Drive area. The conservation office asks that residents don't feed birds this time of year as it attracts bears.

Salmon Arm  residents experienced a couple of unexpected guests over the long weekend.

A black bear was discovered happily eating sunflower seeds from a bird feeder in the upper Lakeshore Drive area Saturday. The bear seemed intent on staying and it was only when it was hosed down with water that it moved on.

Another sighting occurred the following day on Fifth Street SE when a black bear was seen digging for ants in a stump in a resident’s yard.

Afterwards the uninvited guest found the compost. The bear fled at the sound of metal pots being banged.

Both bears seemed thin to the residents, but conservation enforcement officer Josh Lockwood says these sightings occur every year and there are ways the community can ensure these wild neighbours don’t stop by for a visit.

Lockwood says bears are typically thin during this time of the year because they are just coming out of their dens.

“It is not an unusual thing in particular,” he said, noting garbage, bird feeders and compost are three major bear attractors. “They will find the easiest food source and stay there until it is gone.”

Residents should refrain from using bird feeders at this time, he adds.

“Feeding birds this time of year is doing birds a disfavour because it doesn’t teach them to get into their natural instinct of actually finding food,” he said, adding it’s acceptable in severe conditions such as winter. “But feeding birds year round just to keep them around, well bears like bird feeders too.”

When it comes to compost, Lockwood says there are a few tips to keep the bears away.

“Using lime and ammonia will keep the smell down,” he said, adding bears don’t like the smell of ammonia,” he said.

The number-one attractor, however, has always been open garbage, says Lockwood.

“It is a major contributor to bears in the community,” he said. “It is a public safety issue and in order to deal with black bears we need garbage to be properly stored and contained.”

Lockwood says those leaving town for the weekend should refrain from leaving their garbage outside.

“Once they are there they will take possession and are not likely to leave until it is cleaned up,” he said.

Currently, Lockwood says there are two bear traps as well as snares set up in the area.

“Three bears in the area have been dispatched because they are garbage habituated,” he said.

To report a conflict with wildlife, call the 24-hour, toll-free line at 1-877-952-7277. 17:36:31