(Pixabay photo)

(Pixabay photo)

Central Okanagan residents asked to protect their trash as bears return

RDCO asks residents to be mindful with their garbage bins as bears awaken from hibernation

With spring well underway, the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) is warning residents to keep their neighbourhoods clean to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife to their homes.

Rae Stewart, a facilitator at the RDCO’s Regional Waste Reduction office, said that bear sightings have already been reported in neighbourhoods across the Central Okanagan.

“That means it’s time to be extra vigilant. As always, when the bears come out of hibernation, they’re hungry and looking for food,” said Stewart. “The best advice if you live in an area susceptible to wildlife is to reduce your risk of conflict and take responsibility for your trash.”

To avoid confrontations with wildlife, residents are asked to store waste and recycling carts inside a shed or a garage and only place carts outside on the morning of pickups instead of the night before.

Stewart notes that wildlife — bears in particular — have a keen sense of smell, and if they find your garbage, not only will they make a mess, but they may become food-conditioned.

“Then they can pose a risk to you, your family, your pets, neighbours, and themselves. And that’s totally preventable,” she said.

A pilot project between the RDCO waste reduction office and contractor E360s experimenting with various models of bear-resistant garbage carts is in its final phase. The carts are being tested in select neighbourhoods across the region, and the potential for a new cart option could be available by the end of the year.

“The biggest takeaway from cart manufacturers and testing programs is no model or design is deemed 100 percent bear-proof, only bear-resistant,” said Stewart. “So managing your attractants carefully is still critical.”

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