British Columbia

Revelstoke proposes new fallen fruit bylaw to curb bears

The city is considering a bylaw that would give city workers the right to clean up fallen fruit or haul away stinky compost from homeowners' yards in order to curb the number of bears in the city.

Bylaw will give city the power to clean up homeowners' fallen fruit, compost, to prevent bears in town

The City of Revelstoke is considering a bylaw that would allow city workers to collect bear attractants like fallen fruit and rotting garbage from homeowners' yards to prevent bears from coming into the city. (Curt Petrovich/CBC News)

Revelstoke City Council is proposing a new bylaw it hopes will curb the city's bear problem.

Last August, a B.C. Conservation officer had to put down 9 bears in one week after getting reports of bears rummaging through garbage, sheds, and sampling homeowners' fruit trees in the Revelstoke area.

B.C. conservation officer Dan Bartol, who euthanized the bears, said the problem was completely avoidable and that residents weren't doing their part to reduce habituation.

Revelstoke Mayor Mark McKee said attractants like fallen fruit, garbage, and rotting compost played a "big role" last year.

"It was part of the attractants that were bringing bears into the community looking for food and they go the path of least resistance. When they smell food, they go to it," he said.

We are stepping up.- Revelstoke Mayor Mark McKee

That's why council is considering a new bylaw where city workers have the power to go into homeowners yards to clean up and properly dispose of bear attractants.

"First, we've got to identify that there's a problem area. Then we're going to talk to the homeowner or business," McKee explained.

"Then we're going to give them a warning ticket. We're going to give them a ticket, do the cleanup and charge it to them. If they don't pay it, at the end of the year, it goes on to their property taxes."

McKee stressed that the majority of homeowners are compliant and want to be compliant and do their part in protecting the bears.

"People are supportive of it. They know that we have to make changes from the way that we were doing things last year," he said.

McKee said the city has also replaced every garbage can downtown with a bear-safe can.

They are also ramping up education efforts with the local Bear Aware society, bylaw enforcement, and the B.C. conservation office.

He said the city is also pursuing its own local conservation officer, rather than one coming in on a complaint basis, to help with enforcement and education.

"We are stepping up," he said. "We're reinforcing to people what they should be doing, playing their part keeping bears in the wild and keeping them safe."

Listen to the interview with Mayor Mark McKee on Daybreak South