The recent summer heat wave sweeping across the region has slowed down more than just some people.
The sweltering temperatures mean black bears move around less, and with many residents away on summer vacation, bruin complaints have dropped off considerably, said Steve Jacobi, Conservation Officer Service (COS).
“We’re about on par with every other year,” he said.
The lull will end in about a month, said Jacobi, as the bears begin to forage intensely to pack on weight before heading off for their winter slumber.
If the predictions hold, COS will be summoned next month to black bear complaints in Abbotsford about 25 to 30 times, while in Mission, that will climb to between 60 and 100.
And while Mission’s proximity to the mountains is a factor, it is residents’ garbage habits that create problems.
Despite warnings, information campaigns and annual media attention, many people don’t heed advice of keeping their garbage inside their garages or in the freezer until the morning of garbage collection, said Jacobi.
The food smell is irresistible to bears.
Also prompting more complaint calls in Mission are the number of properties with fruit trees.
“If people are not picking up fruit right away as soon as it ripens, bears will be in their yards,” he said.
For those who are unable to gather their fruit, Jacobi encourages them to contact a gleaning service, which will do it for them.
The Mission Gleaners, a program managed by Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (LINC), harvest and donate some of the fruit and vegetables to local people in need. The homeowner, volunteers and a community organization each receive a third.
Abbotsford residents can contact Chilliwack’s Food Matters. While Fraser Valley Gleaners is based in Abbotsford, its volunteers only collect from farms and greenhouses.
How to keep bears away from your yard:
• Don’t leave garbage on your balcony or porch. Bears are good climbers and can easily break into porches, garages and even unsecured homes.
• If you have curbside pick-up, do not put garbage out until one or two hours before the truck arrives. Use containers with locking lids.
• Do not let garbage pile up or develop strong odours that can attract bears. Minimize odours by storing garbage in tightly closed plastic trash bags or garbage cans.
• Stash food scraps, especially meat, fish, bones and fruit by-products in the freezer or in an airtight container until you can dispose of them properly.
• Do not discard cooking grease in your yard. Collect it in a glass, plastic or metal container with a lid. When ready to dispose of it, transfer it to a plastic bag, seal the bag tightly and place in trash.
• Mission Gleaners, 604-852-5514, lincsociety.bc.ca/mission-gleaners
• Food Matters, foodmatterschilliwack.com