Central Okanagan residents have a role in reducing potential wildlife conflicts.

 

The Regional Waste Reduction Office encourages residents to keep neighbourhoods safe by managing anything that attracts bears and other wildlife around your home, including your household garbage. 

 

Conservation Officers report bears are already active in many neighborhoods across the region, accessing garbage carts as a food source, so it’s time to be extra vigilant and do your part to reduce wildlife conflicts:

 

  • Securely store waste and recycling carts inside a shed, enclosure or garage
  • Only put your carts out the morning of pickup, not the night before
  • Remove other attractants such as bird feeders and pet food

 

Rae Stewart, Waste Reduction Facilitator adds, “When bears come out of hibernation they’re hungry, looking for food. The best advice if you live in an area with wildlife is reduce your risk of conflict, take responsibility for your trash. That means making sure you don’t put your garbage cart at the curb the night before, only the morning of pickup.”

 

Stewart adds bears in particular, but other animals as well, have a keen sense of smell. “The idea is to not attract them to your garbage unnecessarily.  If they find your waste, they can make a real mess, and also become food conditioned. Then they can pose a risk to you, your family, your pets, neighbours, and themselves. And that’s totally preventable.”

 

New this year, after testing several bear resistant carts, the RDCO now has a limited supply of  certified bear-resistant carts available for purchase at a subsidized rate of $75 including delivery. These carts will be designated for curbside customers living in high bear interface areas only. It’s important to note, the carts are bear resistant, and if stored outside, should be secured to something solid or kept inside a fenced area so they don’t get dragged away by a bear. Visit rdco.com/recycle for purchase information.

 

Stewart adds the RDCO will continue to monitor the performance of the first 100 carts to ensure they are still helping to keep bears out. A much larger expanded program is planned for the future. “We are going to continue to watch how these carts perform and continue to verify that the carts will be successful with residents and curbside collectors before transitioning to a full scale across the region service recommendation for our Board to consider.”

 

For the second year in a row, the Regional District will also partner with WildSafe BC to help provide bear awareness across the entire Central Okanagan. The WildSafe BC Central Okanagan program will resume in mid May, and helps to monitor carts put out the night before, and bear and wildlife activity in general, as well as provide education across the region for residents. This is in addition to the Okanagan Westside WildSafe BC program.

 

WildSafe BC has tips you can follow to keep wildlife wild and communities safe:

 

  • Only put garbage out for collection on the morning of pickup, not the night before
  • Encourage neighbours to do the same, offer to help if they are not able to put garbage out at appropriate times
  • Secure your garbage on non-collection days; store it securely in your home or in a garage or shed
  • Consider freezing your kitchen scraps until the morning of collection day
  • Keep your barbeque clean and covered
  • Pick ripe or fallen fruit immediately; if composting, or putting in yard waste cart, ensure they are secured from wildlife access
  • Use bird baths and houses to attract birds, rather than bird feeders

 

Please report human-wildlife conflicts and sightings of bears, cougars or coyotes in the community to the BC Conservation Officer Service Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.

 

For more information on deterring bears from your garbage, visit wildsafebc.com. For additional inquiries, visit rdco.com/recycle, email recycle@rdco.com or call the Regional Waste Reduction Office at 250-469-6250.