Be bear and deer aware in Grand Forks as weather warms up

Residents should be alert and not leave out food as hibernating bears awaken and start to forage.

Grizzly bears making their way across the highway near Nancy Greene Lake.

Grizzly bears making their way across the highway near Nancy Greene Lake.

Residents should be alert and not leave out food as hibernating bears awaken and start to forage, while deer begin the process of reproducing.

Grand Forks Conservation Officer Dave Webster stated there is a high population of white tail deer within the community of Grand Forks.

“The ministry’s position with this is that the deer are not to be (hand) fed, because it does promote them to gather in unnatural numbers and in close proximity to people,” he said. “We strongly recommend for people not to leave out food for any wildlife. Not only can it attract deer, it has the potential to attract larger, potentially predatory animals. That’s the concern.”

Mayor Brian Taylor added that people should be careful about getting between babies and mothers.

“The birthing is starting to happen across the city and it is one of the most volatile times for conflicts with humans,” he said.

Taylor will be attending the BC’s Mayors’ Caucus from May 16 to 18 and hopes to get more information from Cranbrook and Kimberly about how well the deer harvests (culling) went for them last year.

“The most startlingly thing is the cost went up to $500 a deer and that’s too much for our community to manage so we need to find something that won’t put the taxpayers in that type of position,” he added. “It’s an exorbitant amount to control our deer problem.”

The previous estimated cost was $300 per deer.

Webster stated that along with the numbers of deer, there is also a high population of bears in the area.

“Depending on the type of spring we have in terms of natural foods developing, every year has the potential to be a bad bear year,” said Webster. “If the natural food sources fail then you have a very full population that will be active and looking for food.”

Attractants should be kept down to a minimum, especially during spring and fall.

This includes not leaving food out in the yard or back porches, such as pet food or garbage, Webster pointed out.

On May 10, it was reported that three grizzly bears had to be put down after consuming eight sheep on a ranch in Edgewood, B.C, north of Castlegar.

A fourth was relocated after chasing an ostrich, which died.

This bear was trapped and taken to the Granby Wilderness area near Grand Forks.

“When you manage livestock you need to be aware of predators and things that are out there,” Webster said. “There are ways to defend your livestock against predators, whether it’s through electric fencing or proper barns and housing practices, such as bringing in animals at night.”

He added that general sightings are quite common, especially if one is in the backcountry, hiking.

“We don’t need to know about those sightings but if there’s any type of altercation or confrontation with a bear, we want to hear about that,” Webster said. “In an urban setting, with the potential of bears getting into garbage or residing close to people, we want to know about those.”

The Bear Aware program is still running out of Christina Lake.

Webster pointed out that if anybody has any problem with wildlife or anything that is potentially a violation, contact the provincial call R.A.P.P. number at 1-888-952-7277.