Up to $3,000 will be allocated as of 2013 towards a bear awareness program, to educate the public on how to adapt to having bears within their vicinity.
Speaking to a report at July’s Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) board meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Carol Mason said that a black bear had been “active” on Gabriola “gaining access to bird feeders, garbage and other attractants”. She said although black bears are common in rural areas, Qualicum Beach residents have also expressed “growing concerns” about bears in the last two years.
Although she noted that the RDN has neither a mandate nor a budget for wildlife management, Mason also said that in the past the RDN’s Solid Waste Department has provided educational material on dealing with wildlife and household waste.
Noting that Regional Director Howard Houle has asked that an information meeting about bear awareness be arranged on Gabriola, and given the lack of programs and budget to do so, the report says that the Solid Waste Department “has been asked to increase its current level of involvement with this subject”. As the Curbside Collection Program services every area in the RDN except Nanaimo, the report suggests that an education program be administered through that function.
The report notes that the BC Ministry of the Environment, the BC Conservation Foundation, and the Union of BC Municipalities have programs “aimed at education and reduction of conflicts” between bears and humans. Mason said conservation officers, who are responsible for the bear awareness programs, can be hired on a contract basis to provide that education. She suggested the proposed $3,000 be used to do so.
Regional Director Alec McPherson said that in Cedar, as a result of resident bears, on the day before garbage collection “three out of every four green bins are already empty”. To remind residents not to put their bins out early, he suggested a “red sticker program” to “slap” stickers on any green bins put out on the street the night before pickup day.
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