While there are still echoes of winter, signs that some bears are up and about has become evident around town.
The first reported footprints in Rossland were spotted by Sharon Wieder of BearAware. She found the unmistakable footprints in the snow around her yard this week.
She said bears will be coming out of hibernation as things start to warm up.
As a representative for BearAware in Rossland, Wieder is reminding people to get back into the bear proofing habits that sometimes become lax over the winter, when bears are not around.
“The big thing is bird feeders, because a lot of people feed the birds over the winter,” she said, explaining one of the big bear attractants. “It’s time to put those away.”
For garbage, she said to make sure to keep the items that will start to smell out the garbage, especially if it will be left outside.
“If people are using dumpsters, make sure they are secured,” she said adding that if you are feeding their pets outside, make sure ot clean the food up when the pet is done eating.
She also said to just keep in mind that bears are now waking up and looking for food, so just in general be aware of the bears.
She said it’s difficult to predict when bears will become active as it depends a lot on the population.
“It’s typically the younger bears that are on their own for the first time, or on the second or third year away from mom, that come out first because they’re still trying to figure out how everything works,” she explained.
“The moms with little cubs born this year won’t come out for awhile, and the male bears had enough to eat in the fall that they’re not in a big hurry.”
As the bears come out in the spring, they are eating to replace the muscle tone that they lost over the winter, so they’re looking for a different kind of food then they were in the later summer and fall.
“Over the winter they use up their store of fat, but this time of the season they are looking for protein,” she said. “A lot of that typically will be meat, so road kill or animals that died off in the wild over the winter. Of course if they come into town and start to look around and smell garbage…”
BearAware is currently waiting to hear back from the B.C. Conservation Foundation on funding.
“We did get money from the city of Trail and Rossland,” Wieder said.
“I’m just waiting to hear back on the funding that would cover the cost of running the education program and co-ordinator position.”
She expects to hear about that in the next month or so.
They applied for the same amount of funding as last year. If they don’t get it, she said they would have to scale back the program.
“It will still go on, but not as active as last year. “
Wieder will also be looking for dumpster deputees again this year.
“It’s the time of year to start recruiting them, now that we know the bears are waking up,” she said.
If interested in becoming a dumpster deputy or to report a bear sighting contact Wieder at 231-2751 or by email at email@example.com. You can also report sightings at through Conservation Officer Services Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.