Tuesday, October 6, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 40 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“We’re confident our actions have resulted in no impact to the lake.”
- Scott Arndt  
- on ATCO Pipelines   
Crowsnest Lake project   

 

 
The nip and chill of fall is upon us, and with it has come a return of bears to the area. With several bears entering residential areas, feeding on fruit and garbage, residents must once again remember the importance of being bear smart.
Local Fish and Wildlife officers have been dealing with several bears in the area over the last few weeks. Bears have been entering the community and feeding on apples, garbage, or bird feeders that have been left unattended, As a result one bear has been put down, another has been captured and relocated, and as of Thursday, October 1, officers were on the lookout for a mother and cub in the Frank area.
"It's been pretty steady," says Fish and Wildlife officer Kirk Olchowy.
Olchowy says that all of the bear issues are being caused because of human factors, with people not picking apples, leaving garbage outside, or having full bird feeders out during the bear season.
He urges all residents to pick their fruit trees and to store garbage in secure locations. Bird feeders should not be put out until winter, when bears are asleep, he says. All of these steps will help keep bears out of the community, which can save a bear's life. When a bear gets used to finding food in town, the bear will also become used to humans and will enter town in broad daylight. At this point the bear poses a danger to people and to area children, and are relocated or, if they have already returned from a relocation, put down.
This is also why it is important to report all bear sightings, he says. If a bear is not yet used to people, Fish and Wildlife officers can frighten the bear away and stop the issue before it becomes serious. But if a bear is allowed to hang around a neighbourhood without being disturbed, it will grow too used to humans.
The problems are continuing, says Olchowy, in part because some people don't take bear safety seriously simply because they have never had bear problems before. But when one person cleans up and becomes bear smart, he says, the bears can simply move down the block and find someone else who has not.
 
"You've got to look at it from a community perspective," says Olchowy.
Two weeks ago several complaints were received about a bear in Hillcrest, but the complaints stopped and Fish and Wildlife were unable to capture the bear. Soon after new complaints started in Blairmore, and Olchowy says that it was possibly the same bear as in Hillcrest.
The female black bear was getting into fruit trees and garbage in east Blairmore, in an area where the same bear had a previous history of finding food. The bear was captured and, because of its previous history, had to be destroyed.
Last week, Fish and Wildlife officers dealt with a small black bear causing issues in the Miner's Path area. The area was closed off, but some people were still entering the closed area where officers had set out bear traps.
Olchowy says that people found entering areas they have closed off because of bear issues will be arrested and prosecuted.
The small bear was captured and has been relocated.
At 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 29, a female black bear and cub wandered into downtown Frank and became treed. Officers could not get the bears out of the tree and waited until dark, when they came down and escaped into the woods.
Fish and Wildlife learned that the mother and cub had been hanging around Frank raiding apple trees for about a week, but no one had reported them. As a result the bears became comfortable enough around humans to wander into town in broad daylight.
"It was kind of a classic case of habituation," says Olchowy. "We're attempting to catch her right now, and relocate her."
While human neglect has been the cause of bear issues in parts of the community, some have been putting in extra effort to help relieve the pressure.
On Wednesday, September 30, Grade Five students from Isabelle Sellon School worked with Fish and Wildlife and the Crowsnest Conservation Society to pick apples at several locations in Bellevue and Hillcrest. A total of 600 lbs of apples were picked by the students and parent helpers, an effort that could help save a bear's life as the season continues.
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