By Ida Koric, Rossland News
As the weather becomes colder and the high-altitude berries less enticing, bears are finally starting to make themselves known in our mountain community.
With promise of winter in the chill air, bears are now struggling to intake 20,000 calories each day, which makes a plum-laden tree look pretty enticing.
After a remarkably quiet summer, which saw a province-wide reduction in problem bear calls, sightings started to pick up in September, according to Sharon Wieder of WildSafe BC.
Wieder credits Rosslanders for the lack of bear encounters thus far, as they have been dealing responsibly with their garbage and compost, and keeping on top of picking personal fruit trees.
At present, only four or five bears seem to have settled within city limits, with no dangerous or troubling encounters as yet.
“It is the rogue trees around town that we are most worried about,” Wieder stated. “They were planted decades ago and nobody maintains them. We’re hoping to have some work parties next year to help prune and manage them.”
Wieder said residents should be aware that bears need to be discouraged from lingering on private property, and also to be aware of other wildlife that are starting to become more of a presence around town.
“Some people are okay with a bear eating the fruit from their tree,” Wieder noted. “But bears have a remarkable sense of smell, and once that fruit is gone, they may go for food or garbage stored indoors. They don’t know that your tree is fair game, but your mud room is not.”
Pet food and small animals, which attract raccoons and coyotes, can also attract bigger mammals such as cougars and bears. Households with bird feeders are encouraged to wait until a reasonable amount of snow has settled on the ground before placing them outside, as sunflower seeds have a much greater caloric pay-off than huckleberries; a fact that bears are certainly cognizant of.
Fruit press day
It has been a rich year for tree fruit, with plums, pears and apples in high abundance. Groups like Wild Safe BC, Bear Aware and Rossland Real Food all partner to try to help locals manage excess fruit in order to prevent it from becoming an attractant.
There is a harvest network available that matches people who would like fruit with those hoping to rid themselves of extras.
Kate’s Kitchen and the Food Bank in Trail will also accept fruit which is in good shape, adding a little freshness to the baskets of local families.
BEAKS in Castlegar often has need of fruit, both to feed recovering birds, and to provide nourishment for the grubs that are raised on the property. One of the most interesting ways to deal with this season’s bumper crop, however, is the community press.
A giant fruit press was donated to the City of Rossland about a decade ago, and Bear Aware (now WildSafe BC) has been managing it in recent years.
On Saturday, Oct. 5, residents can bring their pitless fruit (peaches and plums don’t work very well in the machine) to the park near the community garden at the end of the Rossland School field.
The fruit is pressed into delectable juice, which can then be frozen, canned, or turned into cider. Approximate juice yields for apples are five gallons of fruit to four litres of juice, so be sure to bring adequate containers.
Whether you have excess fruit, are looking to charm your way to some free juice, or enjoy catching up with neighbours, the community press is a great opportunity to witness a unique process and engage in some outdoor socialization.