Update: This story has been updated to include comments from Terrace COS about managing fish entrails and waste for residents and anglers down on the lower Kitimat River, as well.
Conservation Officers and Kitimat RCMP are urging residents to monitor animal attractants to keep bears out of the garbage after another bear had to be destroyed last week near Tweedsmuir Ave.
Zane Testawich of the Terrace Conservation Officer Service (COS) confirmed that a bear had to be dealt with after it was discovered in a Kitimat residence’s garbage last week.
The Kitimat RCMP attended the call and dealt with the dispatching of the bear, and Testawich said he issued a fine to the residents afterwards.
Testawich said this isn’t the first time they’ve had to deal with a bear in this way, nor is it the first time this year, either.
“Unfortunately it does happen and it has happened in the past, and it probably will continue to happen if people don’t secure their garbages,” Testawich said. “Some people have received what we call Dangerous Wildlife Protection Orders (DWPOs). That directs people that we come in contact with to secure all their attractants in an area not accessible to wildlife.”
READ MORE: We’re killing our bears
Testawich said the COS keeps track of all the people who have received a DWPO, and they will go back to the residences later to see if garbage has been cleaned up or not. If not, COS will keep returning and the residents will continue to receive fines up to $575 until it’s been managed.
We’re in fish and berry season in the spring and summer, and Testawich said the COS wants to remind people that they need to make sure fruit trees are picked clean, they need to take down bird feeders, and stop feeding of squirrels and other small animals, as food is already plentiful for animals in the warm months. The trees and feeders just encourage bears and other large animals to come onto people’s properties, which may result in COS having to deal with them.
Testawich also wanted to remind residents that the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline takes all calls for bear sightings, and the calls help the COS manage specific areas, as well, especially if they end up receiving multiple calls about a specific area or sighting.
“We have a few different deterrent methods to get that bear out of the area before it gets into garbages,” Testawich said. “[But] if we don’t get those calls until after it’s posted on Facebook [or left wandering in residential areas]…then we can’t get that bear out before it has to be dispatched.”
Residents are encouraged to call every time they spot a bear in residential areas, as it helps COS and Kitimat RCMP work with people in the area to manage deterrents, as well as hopefully getting the animals out before they have to go to extreme measures.
The RAPP hotline number is 1-877-952-RAPP (7277), and residents can leave a message with specific details about a sighting at any hour of the day or night.
Recent sighting of grizzly bears on the lower Kitimat River also has Conservation Officers concerned that residents and anglers are not giving bears a respectful distance.
Sgt. Tracy Walbauer of the Terrace COS explained residents are actively searching for the bears to take pictures and anglers are not giving the bears adequate space so they can source food, as well.
Sgt. Walbauer explained that if you’re angling and have harvested fish, put them in your vehicle. Do not leave fish entrails on the riverbank and be prepared to leave your spot quickly if a bear approaches. Sgt. Walbauer further said that bears rely on these areas to survive and if anglers are not providing a respectful distance then further steps may be taken, including restricting angler access.