Residents who leave out food, garbage waste or compost could face a $230 fine under a proposed amendment to the Wildlife Act announced on Nov. 14.
According to a news release from the Ministry of Environment, the proposed amendment stated “a prohibition and $230 fine for the mismanagement of attractants that could invite dangerous wildlife, such as grizzly and black bears, cougars, coyotes and wolves.”
Communications Officer Suntanu Dalal with Ministry of Environment noted in an email, “The proposed fine of $230 is related to a ticketed offence and is introduced at a level expected to help achieve greater compliance, but higher fines could be levied through court proceedings.”
Should the proposed fine prove ineffective as an incentive for compliance, Suntanu stated it is possible for the fine to increase in the future.
Conservation Services would enforce the new amendment to the Wildlife Act.
Grand Forks Conservation Officer Dave Webster explained that this proposal is in response to the two sections already in place in the Wildlife Act.
“It is illegal to feed dangerous wildlife or leave out substances to attract (wildlife),” he said. “The legislation had a bit of a gap there where we didn’t have a lot of ability to clean up their attractants. You almost had to prove they were doing it intentionally.
“Where we were running into problems is somebody was leaving out substances that would attract dangerous wildlife if someone didn’t pick their fruits from their trees, or if they put foodstuff into their compost.”
Webster pointed out the fine would be given if someone was not picking up fruit from the ground after they’ve fallen and it has been identified that bears are in the area.
“The intent of the legislation is to allow Conservation Officers the ability to charge an individual who – despite previous advice, education and perhaps even warnings – continues to mismanage attractants and put both people and wildlife at risk,” said Suntanu.
This year has been particularly bad for bears lingering within the city.
“A lot of natural food sources didn’t develop in certain areas, which really highlights where we fail as a community in that regard,” explained Webster. “People putting out garbage two days before garbage day or just leaving their garbage outside as a general habit.”
Between freezers left outside and fruits not being picked up from the ground, Webster noted it was rampant throughout the community and not an isolated incident.
“It really caused us problems,” he concluded.
Suntanu pointed out that the key part of this amendment comes in three parts.
“(The) use of a defined attractant, (second) the attractant is left, placed on or about any land or premises where there are or where there are likely to be people,” explained Suntanu. “And (third) the attractant is accessible to dangerous wildlife.”
Amendments to the Wildlife Act have been proposed, but it may be a while yet until the fine is put into place.