Manitoba Conservation and Climate is recording a higher than usual number of black bear interaction calls in a number of areas around the province and Manitobans are reminded they need to be bear smart in bear country.
One of the most common causes of bear-human conflict is the presence of bird feeders. Bird seed can attract bears as well as birds, and with other food sources plentiful for birds in the summer months, people are asked to put feeders away until later in the fall.
Once a bear is attracted to an area, it can associate that area with food and may return multiple times, which can be dangerous for people, but also for the bear. If a bear is identified as a problem animal, the province may have to take steps to trap and relocate it or possibly use lethal force.
To enjoy birdwatching, Manitobans are encouraged to use birdhouses, birdbaths or grow a variety of bird-friendly plant species in their yards. Bird feeders should be removed April to November. For winter bird-feeding, the feeders should be hung at least two metres above the ground and spilled seed should be cleaned up regularly.
Additional ‘Wildlife Smart’ tips to reduce the risk of conflicts with black bears and other wildlife include:
• never approach or feed a bear or any other wild animal;
• restrain (leash) dogs when walking outside to reduce the potential of it harassing a bear or of being attacked by one as unrestrained dogs can lead a bear back to the dog’s owner;
• store garbage in a secure building or bear resistant container;
• secure compost piles or compost food items indoors;
• remove ripened or fallen fruit daily in the morning and before dusk and do not allow it to rot on the ground;
• allow barbecue grills to burn for about two minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors;
• clean grills and grease cups after each use;
• clean up after picnics in the yard or on a deck and do not allow food odors to linger;
• feed pets indoors; and
• fully enclose backyard beehives and chicken coops – electric fencing is an effective bear deterrent.
These measures also apply to other wildlife species that can be a problem, such as the coyote, fox, raccoon and skunk.
Bears are wild animals and must be respected. When in bear country, it is best to assume bears are in the vicinity even if no recent conflict or encounters have been reported. Carry bear deterrent spray and know how to use it. Be aware of surroundings, walk or jog in groups, make noise and make sure things like listening to music with earphones do not impede hearing.
More information on how to be Wildlife Smart is available at www.manitoba.ca/human-wildlife.