Grand Forks residents reminded to store food properly to keep bears away

Grand Forks residents reminded to store food properly and not to leave garbage out early to keep bears away.

With the weather getting colder, bears can be seen around Grand Forks pilfering through garbage and the new green bins.

Grand Forks Conservation Officer Dave Webster noted that there are several bears within the city limits that are quite active during this time.

“Along Kettle River, we have them between 6th Street and the high school, and area near (the Trans Canada Trail),” he said. “We tend to get bears there as well because it’s a green belt area and swamp area, so they tend to show up there.”

Webster pointed out that when you come across a bear, you want to make sure the bear knows that you’re there.

“Make some noise when you’re walking along the trails, and if you have a pet with you it’s best that they’re on a leash,” Webster said. “If the bear is on the trail or on your intended path, you need to back away and give that bear space because sometimes if they feel threatened, or if they think they don’t have any option to escape, they can act aggressively in defense.

“That being said, in this area they have lots of room to roam and right now, they’re trying to pick up on food sources.”

Webster explained that fruit trees should be pruned and fallen fruits picked-up, pet food shouldn’t be left out, and compost or recycling should be put away safely.

When food is left out, bears are able to key in on those items and stay in the community longer than if there was no food available, he added. Previous areas that had no bears are now seeing signs of bears coming in.

“If people are putting food in those green bins then it’s definitely an attractant and it’s going to cause conflict with the wildlife, and we have seen that already,” Webster said. “It does have to go out the morning of pick up and contrary to what the city is asking, I would suggest that no food products be put up at all this time of year. It’s that time of year where we all need to be vigilant in our yards and keep our yards clean.”

Grand Forks RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison added that any calls about bears would be referred to the conservation officer unless he is unavailable.

“We haven’t had to destroy any bears ourselves and our biggest message that we’re putting out to people is to clean up your yards and stay away from the bears,” said Harrison. “Leave them alone and they’ll wander off on their own because we’re living in their backyards as well.”

If you do have a conflict with a bear, in terms of property damage or safety concerns, contact the 24-hour R.A.P.P. (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1-877-952-7277.