Hungry bears test garbage bin at B.C. Wildlife Park

By Chad Harris
May 19, 2016 - 5:47pm Updated: May 20, 2016 - 12:45pm

KAMLOOPS — Every year the Conservation Officer Service in Kamloops is called out to deal with nuisance bears and garbage. 

A city bylaw is in place to reduce that risk, but not everyone abides by the rules.

So how well locked away is your garbage from nosy bears wandering through residential neighbourhoods? That's what the experts tested out in a demonstration at the B.C. Wildlife Park.

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It didn't take the grizzlies at the Kamloops Wildlife Park very long to break into a test garbage bin at the B.C. Wildlife Park.

The bears play an important role in the manufacture of residential and commercial garbage containers.

"It has to withstand one hour of contact time with the bears. If it passes that they get certified by our organization," said Frank Ritcey, Provincial Coordinator for Wildsafe BC. 

Ritcey admits nothing is bear proof, only bear resistant and that's what this demonstration, one of only two recognized in North America, sets out to do.

"In this case, the bears were able to breach the unit, but we don't really consider this a failure. What it does, is it shows us, and the manufacturer where there are weaknesses in the design."

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service in Kamloops says 2 to 4 bear conflicts are reported daily, with 4 bears active in the community.

They are feeding on garbage and that's why property owners must ensure their garbage bins cannot be accessed by wildlife.

Conservation Officer Kevin Van Damme says "here in Kamloops we are always going to have an interface with  these wild animals, they are always going to be here. We just have to do our part to make sure that they don't come into our yards, and access food. We all have to take our own responsibility, and secure that food source away from these animals." 

Wildsafe BC says they'll be out to educate residents about the dangers of not following the city bylaw as to when you are allowed to put out your bins.

It's not only important for public safety, but for the bears well being. 

They rely on learned behavior for survival, however, accessing garbage carries a deadly consequence.

"It only takes one incident for a bear to access non-natural food things, and that bear will continue to do that," said Van Damme, adding, "Unfortunately the consequence for that individual animal is that we have to capture that animal. We do not move these animals, they unfortunately, and this is the challenge for us as Officers, and for the community, [is that] those animals are killed." 

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