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Less fruit = less bears at Christina Lake residences

Getting ready to head out to pick fruit are (L-R) Sgt. Aaron DeBoone, Susan Harrison and Doug Shannon. Home base for the event was the Christina Lake Welcome Centre; Photo, Mona Mattei
Over 200 pounds of fruit was picked as volunteers helped to eliminate attractive bear food from Christina Lake residences last weekend.
 
The pears, apples and plums were delivered to the food bank by the food drive initiated by the Help Save the BC Black Bears website group. Partnering with the Christina Lake Stewardship Society, they put out the call for volunteers to assist in a fall harvest for absentee land owners’ properties or for people who can’t do their own harvest.
 
Susan Harrison, a volunteer with CLSS, greeted people who were interested in helping and gave out information about bears and living with bears.
 
“It’s all about educating people to realize what is going to attract a bear,” explained Harrison. “Unfortunately, ripening fruit is a big attractant and a lot of people don’t want to cut their fruit trees down or pick their fruit early. We pick our apples in early September and they’re just ripening now. And they’re not the same. But we didn’t have a bear break in this year.”
 
Harrison is just one of the people who believe that the area can live with bears, but that everyone needs to take responsibility for their own properties and work to ensure bears don’t find attractive food which in turn will keep them away from communities.
 
“Some of the worst offenders are probably the campers,” she continued. “They leave a lot of garbage and even though there are places to put the garbage it’s not always secured enough because (the bears) are so strong they can break through a wooden cover on a truck or tear a hasp off of its lock.”
 
Volunteers Bob and Ellen Rogers, Sgt. Arnold DeBoon of the B.C. Conservation Service, Doug Shannon, Harrison and Connie Herman picked about 10 trees that were identified by owners and property managers.
 
“These trees had bear sign at the locations and so a known source of unnatural food for the bears,” Herman added.
 
While the volunteer crew was small, they plan to do this again next year and are hoping for both more picking crew members and more home owners to sign up for their trees to be cleared.
 
“If there are people who own property at the lake and they just come as a summer place and they have an old pear tree on their property that they don’t want to cut down, well, they can contact the Stewardship Society and ask for someone to pick it in the fall,” Harrison added.

Go to www.bearaware.bc.ca for more information about passive feeding of bears, and how this still threatens them. Support for this event was provided by the Christina Lake Stewardship Society, Help Save the B.C. Black Bears Facebook page, and the Priestley family.