Bear students release findings
Bears don’t differentiate between garbage cans on the curb or those in residents’ yards, City of Merritt Bear Aware students reported in a presentation to council on Aug. 21.
Sarah Simon and Caitlin Grimshire, who spent the summer educating locals about water conservation and the Bear Aware program, said that during patrols they noticed that many residents waited until the morning to put their garbage on the curb for pickup, but left bins in their yards overnight.
The students said yards are not protected areas and encouraged residents to wait until the morning to put garbage outside to reduce bears attractants.
The goal of the Bear Aware program is to educate people in order to minimize the community impact on the bear population and to discourage the habituation of bears in the community.
In their presentation, Simon and Grimshire said bears need to consume over 10,000 calories per day and so it is necessary for communities to manage attractants to prevent bears from seeing homes as sources of food.
To educate the community, they tagged garbage cans left ouside overnight, went door to door to speak with residents, and compiled data about residents’ garbage can maintenance.
They found that problematic areas in Merritt included neighbourhoods near Canford Street, Coutlee Avenue and Clapperton Avenue, Fir and Walnut Avenue, and Spruce Street. In some of these areas over 60 homes out of 100 had left garbage cans outside.