Display at Northern Bear Awareness Society talk at Prince George Public Library – photo 250News
Prince George BC- It’s that time of the year, bears are waking from hibernation and they are looking for food.That means it’s time for Prince George residents to take steps to ensure hungry bears don’t take the easy way out to get food.
The Northern Bear Awareness Society offered plenty of advice on how to avoid having bears come to your property to find food.
“A bear’s sense of smell is 7 times greater than that of a bloodhound” said Haneef Abdul Rehman as he lead those in attendance in a course one might call “Bears-101”. From the types of bears around the world, to their life cycles, and what to do should you come across a bear, Abdul Rehman presented an informative, and at times humorous, talk about the species.
At this time of the year, bears are emerging from their dens and in Prince George, there have already been 8 sightings, 5 in the past two weeks. One third of the bear sightings so far this year involved bears accessing attractants left by humans.
While bears will eat nearly anything, it was pointed out that their natural food sources, such as berries, clover and dandelions are low in calorie count when compared to the food humans throw out. “During Hyperphagia ( when bears are packing on the pounds to prepare for hibernation) they require about 20 thousand calories a day” said Abdul Rehman “That’s about the same as eating 36 Big Macs a day.”
So if a pound of raspberries provides about 229 calories, it’s not a stretch to see why bears would opt for one pound of black oil sunflower seeds from a birdfeeder, which has about 2,485 calories.
“The best thing we can do is to change our behaviours” said Abdul Rehman ” secure your garbage and if possible put it out in the morning of pick up instead of overnight, take down the birdfeeders, don’t leave dog food outside” Once a bear has found the easy source of food, they will return to it, and that leads to problems. He also advised not to put meat, fish or dairy items in compost.
The Society has a fruit exchange program that is usually in full swing at the end of the summer. The program links those who have fruit they don’t want, to those who do want it. ( check out their facebook page)
Last year, there were 900 calls to the Conservation Officer Service about problem bears in Prince George, and 42 bears were destroyed.
Dave Bakker, President of the Society says there is no relocation program for bears found to have been “habituated” to rooting through garbage “They are destroyed, and a female with her cubs in that situation, well, the whole family is destroyed. So the message remains the same, ‘a fed bear is a dead bear.”