After the sixth bear of summer to be destroyed, communities within the Columbia Valley are reminding residents and visitors to be mindful of their animal attractants. However, the District of Invermere has yet to issue any fines to people abusing Bylaw 1426 Deer Feeding and Wildlife Attractants.
“We have a bylaw against having wildlife attractants and we may need to increase enforcement and issuing tickets and try to force those who are not doing the right things on their own to comply with the bylaw and we also need to ensure garbage is as well being managed properly,” said District of Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.
Mr. Taft was disappointed about the recent destruction of a 250-pound brown phase black bear last Thursday, September 7th.
“It is very unfortunate and very disappointing in that people who have fruit trees have a responsibility to either remove the fruit or remove the trees and to manage attractants,” said Mr. Taft.
Within Bylaw 1426 under section five it states: ‘No person should fail to take remedial action to avoid contact or conflict with bears or other wildlife after being advised by the Bylaw Enforcement Officer that such action is necessary’. In Invermere, 11 warnings have been given out to residents and those who haven’t complied with bylaw’s recommendations may be subject to a $50 fine.
“There would be a different route to follow if there was a serious offence. If somebody was really providing an attractant and wasn’t following recommendations from the bylaw officer then eventually, they could be subject to a fine of $10,000. So there are two separate routes that it would go in the court,” said Wildsafe coordinator Andrea Smillie.
Although the community has no official program to help residents manage their fruit trees Ms. Smillie, along with Kalista Pruden, set up a Columbia Valley Fruit Exchange on Facebook to help people with fruit trees manage their crops.
“That’s been really good because nobody is really liable. It’s a homeowner volunteer joint effort and it’s just kind of a, ‘hey I have fruit do you want to come pick my fruit’ and people are like ‘yeah’! So it’s pretty informal,” said Ms. Smillie. “That’s where I direct people to and then if somebody– because a lot of people don’t have Facebook which is totally fair – so I post for them.”
As fruit continues to ripen, and bears begin to search for more calories before hibernation, bylaw and conservation service will be out patrolling to ensure attractants are being managed by the public.