City officials hope the new bylaw will deter increased bear activity in Canmore

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Canmore officials say there has been increased bear activity around the Alberta town as the animals search for food ahead of winter – and hope a new bylaw will help deter it.

“Late August, early September is when the bears hunt for berries,” said Caitlin Miller, manager of protective services for the town of Canmore.

“And there aren’t many bays up there, so they come down and look [around town].”

But Canmore’s new Community Standards Bylaw – which came into effect on August 16 – seeks to give bears less to snack on.

It prevents residents from planting new fruit vegetation, although existing fruit trees and bushes are allowed to remain.

Miller said residents can also be fined for allowing fruit to accumulate on their properties and are prohibited from leaving wildlife attractants like food outdoors.

“It’s not enough to pick up the fruit once it’s fallen from the tree. They have to actively pull it off the tree as it matures,” she said.

Educational compliance

The settlement is a consolidation of several that previously existed and has been made more general so that it is easier to apply, Miller said.

As for those who enforce it, their work has included public education, proactive patrols and, more recently, a few tickets.

Entry fines are $250 and can go up to $10,000. But the educational component comes first, Miller said.

“We want to make sure people know what the rules are and why they’re in place,” she said.

That means helping people understand that food sources like barbecues and pet food can attract unwanted visitors, Miller said.

Big draws also include chokecherries, crabapples, rowan berries, and buffalo berries.

Big draws for wildlife can include chokecherries, crabapples, rowan berries and buffalo berries, Caitlin Miller said. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Resources are also available for dwellers who need to shape fruit trees and bushes. For example, the Town of Canmore has a voluntary fruit tree removal incentive program.

Meanwhile, Wildsmart, a conservation program in the Bow Valley, has a free library of loaner tools that includes pruning and fruit picking equipment.

“This settlement was very important to us,” Miller said.

“We want to make sure it’s a safe and livable community, and that Canmore does everything [it] can maintain this coexistence between wildlife and humans. »

Wildlife-human coexistence

So what exactly is at stake if this coexistence is not maintained?

For starters, experts say wildlife can potentially be hit by vehicles – or taste food and keep coming back.

“Often when wild animals come to town or get too close to people, they pay the price by being moved or destroyed,” said Nick de Ruyter, program director at WildSmart.

“And the previously mentioned relocation is only about 30% successful, and it’s even less successful in the fall before hibernation.”

As for people, the danger is…well, bears.

“There are kids riding bikes, walking to school, people walking around neighborhoods, and they’re not necessarily prepared for these encounters,” he said.

“I think the right combination of education for law enforcement is essential to help change behaviors and increase compliance.”

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