Bear Aware Community Coordinator ZoeKirk and Conservation Officer Service inspector Barb Leslie made a presentation to the Environment and Infrastructure Committee at the regional district board room on October 4.
The two women appeared before the committee to advocate amendments to the solid waste collection and drop off regulation bylaw that would see Areas “D” and “F” adopt a policy similar to one implemented in Area “E” (Naramata) last year.
Since the implementation of “Bear Aware” provisions in Electoral Area “E” the number of nusiance bears killed in the area have been reduced dramatically, Kirk told the committee.
“Prior to 2010, six to seven bears were killed annually in Naramata,” said Kirk “ since the bylaw came into effect, the mortality rate has been reduced to one bear in the past two years.”
Naramata is also moving towards “Bear Smart” status, Kirk added, noting that four of six required steps had already been completed in the community. Naramata’s two remaining steps left to complete are;
– to implement planning decisions that are consistent with bear smart management plans.
-to implement bear smart bylaws.
“We would like to take what we’ve done in Area “E” and apply it to “D” and “F”,” Kirk told the board. In audits performed in Kaleden, a community known for its bear issues, Kirk counted 78 and 79 garbage cans placed at curbside the night before pick up in two separate audits.
“There are 446 homes in Kaleden, which represents a 17 per cent total of early curbsters,” she explained to the board. Twin Lakes area is being looked at as well and will be discussed this fall, she added.
Kirk also cited the benefits of an amended bylaw noting such things as:
– low cost / benefit ratio
– a reduced potential for bear and human conflict
– bylaw builds awareness
– it would promote safer communities
– it would reduce litter and garbage
“There is the potential for the RDOS to go Bear Smart very easily,” added Inspector Leslie. Having been in the region, transferred out for a few years and then returning, Leslie observed that the region had come a long way in terms of understanding wildlife conflict issues.
“I hope the board will consider these bylaws,” she said, “by doing so, we will be promoting co-existence.”
Naramata Director Karla Kozackevich described her constituents “love – hate” relationship with Kirk, due to the fact that many people take exception to legislation that prohibits them from placing their garbage at curbside the night before.
Summerland Director Janice Perrino questioned Kirk about backyard ponds and bird feeders, who commented that both contributed to bear problems when used in seasons other than winter.
Oliver rural Director Allan Patton perceived a conflict with the legislation with farm workers, who would be unlikely to purchase bear proof containers for all their waste fruit.
Kirk replied that a grant had been applied for that would allow her to write a best practises manual.
Area”D” Director Tom Siddon expresssed a need to give urgency to deer control issues.
“We have to manage the real life concerns of our constituents,” he said, “we have to give higher priority to this problem and educate the public about what needs to be done in time for action next year. We’ve got to start moving on it.”
The amended bylaw would only allow residents to place garbage at curbside after 5 a.m. of the day of pick up. The committee endorsed a motion to instruct staff to prepare amendments to the existing solid waste collection and drop off service bylaw for Areas “D” and “F”.