Calgary

Hungry black bears drawn to residential areas in search of fruit trees, berries

Several communities in Alberta bear country are seeing more black bear activity as the animals are drawn to fruit trees in residential areas, experts say.

'There's been a number of pretty close encounters'

Black bears are often drawn into residential areas in the fall as they look for fruit from crab apple trees. (Jeff Mcintosh/The Canadian Press)

Several communities in Alberta bear country are seeing more black bear activity as the animals are drawn to fruit trees in residential areas.

Jay Honeyman, a human/wildlife conflict biologist with the province, says officials are getting calls every day about bears and fruit trees.

In towns such as Canmore, he says, animals trying to fatten up for winter are being lured by easy access to food like crab apples and chokecherries.

"There's been a number of pretty close encounters, and I guess in a way it's a testimony to the bears that they're not being really aggressive," he said.

"They're focused on feeding, but nonetheless, they're wild animals and we really don't want to be encouraging bears within developments. We've got to get them back into the woods where they're supposed to be."

Honeyman says the bears end up transitioning from food sources in the wild to fruit trees and then garbage in towns, which can lead to dangerous encounters between bears and people.

Nick de Ruyter with Wildsmart says people should get rid of the fruit and even consider removing the trees.

"But at a minimum … recommend removing the fruit every year before the fruit's ripe, so there's nothing there for the bears and other wildlife to be attracted to," he said.

now