Princeton council proposes up to $10,000 in fines under new wildlife bylaw

Recent years has seen bears become increasingly brazen, says Princeton councillor Barb Gould. (Black Press file photo)

Princeton residents who put the community at risk by attracting wildlife to their properties could face fines of up to $10,000, if a new wildlife attractant bylaw receives final approval from town council

At a recent meeting. council gave three readings to the bylaw. The legislation prohibits feeding wildlife and sets up specific requirements for property care.

It says fruit and nut trees may not be left untended, and fruit that falls to the ground must be removed in three days.

Also, bird feeders must be inaccessible to wildlife, and the area below them must be kept clear.

Composters, bee hives and chicken coops would have to be maintained in such a way as to not attract wildlife.

Refuse must be inaccessible to wildlife, and trash for pick up may not be placed at the curbside before 5 a.m. on the day of collection, under the proposed new law.

In total there are 21 separate, chargeable offenses, each carrying a daily fine of between $150 and $500, up to an accumulated maximum of $10,000.

“The specific issue of wildlife conflict is not a new challenge to the Town of Princeton,” said protective services manager Ed Atkinson in a report to council.

“It has been suggested by community members that local government has responsibility in assisting residents with minimizing the conflicts that occur with our wildlife…The bylaw speaks to our responsibility as a community to take steps to co-exist with the wildlife around us. The fine amounts in this bylaw are in step with those found in other similar municipal bylaws and in the wildlife act.”

The wildlife attractant bylaw would replace the former deer feeding bylaw.

Related: Princeton councillor says taller fences would protect lawns from deer

Princeton CAO Lyle Thomas said education is the first and preferred method of enforcement.

Princeton contracts with a Wildsafe BC co-ordinator who visits problem properties, and gives out information about the importance of compliance.

While most residents have been receptive to this approach, there are others who refuse to comply.

“There’s a few of those,” he said.

Coun. Barb Gould holds Princeton’s urban deer portfolio.

Related: Town deer are making Princeton residents fearful, says councillor

She said she supports the bylaw — which received three readings in an unanimous vote on April 6 — noting it goes far beyond discouraging deer.

“It’s about keeping the bears out, and other animals,” she said. Bears have been an increasing nuisance in the past couple of years.

“The bears themselves are becoming very brazen,” Gould said, adding she would be “very disappointed” if anyone had to be fined under the new restrictions.

“We are going to talk and education and give alternatives (first),” she said.

Gould also encouraged anyone with feedback regarding the bylaw to come forward before its final adoption.

Two years ago, Conservation Officers were required to trap and euthanize four black bears that were feeding in Princeton residential areas.

Last year, after bears were photographed rummaging through municipally owned garbage cans, council passed a resolution to install bear resistant receptacles on town land.

Mayor Spencer Coyne said $30,000 has been allotted for that purpose in the 2020 budget.

Related: Four bears trapped in Princeton and destroyed

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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