An afternoon trip on Saturday, August 27th to the Athalmer transfer station to drop off recycling turned into a surprise encounter with an adult black bear. We had pulled in front of the yellow bins and we were about to get out of the car when the bear stepped out from between the bins about five metres away. We pulled away slowly and drove outside the fenced enclosure. Another person going past stopped and placed a call to the RCMP, which was forwarded to the Conservation Officer. The bear had resumed feeding on garbage at this point. We felt it was best to roll the gates closed to prevent other encounters. The bear then climbed into the bin and retrieved a bag of garbage. It then exited the enclosure with its prize through a hole in the fence behind the bins.
It is sad to think that we were watching a dead bear walking. The conservation officers have the unenviable task of dealing with habituated bears. That meant the recent shooting of nine bears in one week in our neighbouring community of Revelstoke. Before we have a situation where someone is harmed or more bears are destroyed, lets move quickly to find a solution to the bear attractant problem in Althalmer and with domestic garbage generally.
We can adopt successful approaches used by other communities. We urge the Invermere town council to work with the waste-handling company and residents to keep bears and people safe. We are all responsible.
George and Marla Oliver