We know that having yards filled with berry bushes and fruit trees can attract bears into in residential areas, putting wildlife and people at risk. Ornamental crabapple, chokecherry, and mountain ash trees, as well as shepherdia (buffalo berry) that are laden with ripe fruit present a powerful seasonal attractant to foraging bears. As a result, bears have been food-conditioned to this available fruit and habituated to humans, leading to wildlife managers having to destroy or translocate numerous black bears from the community due to concerns for public safety.
But did you also know that it is against the law to let fruit or berries accumulate on trees, bushes, or the ground? Or that you can’t hang a bird feeder between April 1 – November 30? Fines can range between $250 - $10,000. The Wildlife Attractant Bylaw is designed to increase public safety, reduce negative human-wildlife interactions, reduce nuisances caused by wildlife entering the community, and enables our peace officers to address these issues if and when they arise. The bylaw can be found here: https://canmore.ca/documents/bylaws/1558-wildlife-attractant-2017-10
In addition, many people are unaware that pet food and BBQs can also attract wildlife. Consider feeding your pets and storing pet food indoors. Keep your BBQ clean and take drip pans inside.
Visit www.wildsmart.ca for more information on living smart with wildlife. To watch the 25-minute documentary entitled Living with Wildlife, which takes a realistic look at the challenges and the constant pressures wildlife face, click here.
By late August and September, bears have depleted the shepherdia berries and other native food sources in the valley bottom. As crabapples and other fruits begin to ripen on trees in Canmore, they attract bears to residential areas. Attracting bears to your yard can also result in opportunistic bears obtaining other human foods such as garbage and pet food.
It’s not enough to pick fruit off the ground — bears climb into trees in search of ripening fruit. If you have a fruit-bearing tree or shrubs, consider removing it. Fruit trees in residential areas of Canmore bring bears into the townsite.
If bears still come to these areas to check for available foods, when they find that the food is not there, they will move to other areas where berries are more abundant.
Voluntary Fruit Tree Removal Program
In an effort to reduce conflict between bears and people in Canmore, the Town of Canmore is running a voluntary fruit tree removal program. Homeowners in the priority areas identified on the map below are invited to express their interest in participating in the program which will cover 50% of the cost of removal to a maximum of $300 if you use an arborist or tree removal service to remove your tree.
Shepherdia grows along the edges of open areas which often includes pathways, meadows, edges of residential areas, water bodies, and also can be present in our yards – essentially areas where humans live and play. In the Bow Valley the berry season usually runs from mid-July until the end of August. Bears are attracted to this plentiful shrub, and will eat tens of thousands of berries each day to store energy for their upcoming hibernation.
The Town of Canmore and Province of Alberta are trying to keep both the bears and residents safe by removing shepherdia bushes from high human-use areas. Some areas include Rundleview, Quarry Lake, Three Sisters Campground, Bow River Campground, and along trails in the Canmore Nordic Centre and at Grassi Lakes Trail.
Many residences also have shepherdia growing in their backyards and gardens. These bushes become a prime attraction to bears especially in residential areas adjacent to the wildland fringe. Bears feeding in private yards create a public safety concern. Residents can be WildSmart by learning how to identify shepherdia bushes and removing them from their own property. For more information and to learn how to identify these plants, visit: www.wildsmart.ca
Do not use bird feeders of any kind during bear season (April 1 to November 30). Outside of those months, we recommend suspending the bird feeder on a cable so that it can’t be reached by any other wildlife and remember to clean the ground underneath.