The future of fruit trees

Column by our local WildSafe BC coordinator

Happy fall, Columbia Valley! It’s the time of year to reflect on the goings-on in our region, wind down from the busyness of summer, and settle into the slow season. It’s also a time typically loaded with human-bear conflict, and if you have a fruit tree in the area you may have had a visit from myself, the Radium/RDEK WildSafeBC coordinator, or one of the Conservation Officers. We had the usual heightened conflict this September, which happens annually as the nights get colder and bears prepare for surviving the winter months.

It was also a season full of fruit. Apples, pears, crabapples, plums, chokecherries… you name it. Many residents had much more on their trees than they could easily manage. In order to prevent bears from being attracted to properties with fruit and becoming habituated or food-conditioned, WildSafeBC and the Conservation Officer Service made a significant effort this year to reach out to homeowners and remind them about this attractant.

Many trees were not ready for picking and residents were waiting for the fruit to ripen, or waiting until after the first frost. Some residents were away, and did not receive messaging until several weeks later. Others were unable to pick their fruit themselves, or had too much fruit to manage.

Many residents were confused about the act of “managing” fruit. I received many calls regarding how early residents were expected to pick apples. This was a difficult question to answer, but Conservation Officer Kruger was able to clarify it further, saying that as long as a resident is being diligent, picking fruit once it was ready to eat, and cleaning up anything that fell on the ground, it was considered reasonable. It is important to note that unripe fruit may still attract a bear, but the bear is less likely to be attracted to it, and so priority number one is taking care of ripe fruit.

WildSafeBC only has two employees in the region, and liability insurance is not available to send enough people with the right resources into the community to pick fruit. On top of this, one cannot simply go onto a property without asking and remove fruit from the trees. This makes fruit trees a more complicated attractant that require significant planning and organization to address at a community level.

In order to reduce the wildlife attractant volume in the future, to ensure that seniors and other residents have help picking, to employ the right messaging to second homeowners with fruit, and make our communities a safer place, WildSafeBC Invermere is exploring the option of working with other community groups and plan for next year’s fruit season. We would appreciate fruit tree owners contacting us now in order to prepare for next season. We can then link owners with volunteers far in advance and create an “adopt a tree” program for next year, where partnerships between homeowners and other community members can both benefit from the fruit, share it, and prevent bears from getting into trouble at the same time.

There are alternatives to dealing with an abundance of fruit. Removing a fruit tree and replacing it with a non-fruit-bearing variety, along with pruning or spraying off blossoms in the spring, are other ways to manage attractants, especially if the fruit isn’t very edible or if no one wants it.

For information or inquiries about the “Adopt a Tree” program in Invermere, or if you have questions about attractant management in general, please contact Andrea Smillie at (250) 341-9281 ext. 1230.

For information on WildSafeBC, check out our website www.WildSafeBC.com or our Facebook page “WildSafeBC Columbia Valley.”

To report human-wildlife conflict, please call the RAPP line (Conservation Officer Service) at 1-877-952-7277. The sooner a bear is reported in your neighborhood, the earlier we can try to remove an attractant and the better chance it has for survival.

Just Posted

COTR honours Orange Shirt Day

A virtual event to raise awareness about Orange Shirt Day is being hosted early on Sept. 22

Invermere gets new CAO

Invermere found his new CAO after a long period of research.

Radium council discusses short term rentals

RHS council are elaborating the second draft plan for STR

Farmers’ Institute report highlights emerging local food scene

Beef cattle ranching remains mainstay of valley agriculture

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read