Banff eyes legislation that would force residents to chop fruit trees
Town is also mulling a ban on bird feeders
Banff is eyeing legislation that would force residents to chop or clean up fruit trees that attract wildlife to the mountain town.
When bears are trying to fatten up for winter, there's nothing more tempting that a tree heavy with fruit.
The town already offers incentives to homeowners to replace their fruit trees at no cost with another flowering tree that doesn't produce fruit, but Darren Enns, manager of development services for the town, said too few residents are taking advantage of the voluntary program.
"The Town of Banff has been very successful in managing human wildlife conflict over the years … what we're looking to do now is to recalibrate and look at opportunities," he said, adding that they're considering a variety of legal options.
In 2017, six homeowners participated in the tree replacement program and seven trees were removed. This is according to the town's website.
Enns said there are species the town recommends be planted with new development, but no legislation that applies to existing trees.
"There's a number of great alternative species that flower but don't produce fruit and that's what we're trying to draw people's attention to as an alternative," he said.
The idea stems from the human wildlife coexistence project — a joint effort between Canmore and all levels of government — which looks to minimize conflict between humans and wildlife in the Bow Valley.
Katie Morrison with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society said the town is taking important steps toward preventing human-wildlife interactions.
The town is also mulling a ban on bird feeders, and is assessing how to make backyards less attractive to denning animals.
"I think it's really important especially in places like that, or anywhere in areas where we're living closely to wildlife, to do as much as we can to make sure that we are not putting ourselves and putting lives in danger," she said.
Once the town has received a legal opinion on what powers it has, the town's council will decide what steps to take next.
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With files from Helen Pike