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More bears seen in the community

Last Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 1:12 pm MDT

PHOTO: Signage in the Birch Wood Trails. Melanie Walsh/ Afternoon Anchor.

More bears seem to be hanging around the community.

Brendan Cox with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General says that is because people haven’t been throwing out their garbage correctly.

“What that means is, people have been leaving their garbage out all week in a receptacle that isn’t bear proof or they’re putting it out to far in advance of garbage day… allowing that much more time for bears to be attracted to it,” said Cox.

Garbage shouldn’t be placed outside until the morning of pick-up day. The rest of the time the bins should be stored where a bear can’t get at it, in a garage or shed.

Cox said bears are opportunistic animals and look for a food source anywhere.

“Even having bird feeders in your yard can attract a bear. We encourage people to remove bird feeders from April-October,” said Cox. “After you BBQ make sure you clean your grill thoroughly and keep your pet food indoors.”

If you encounter a bear you should keep your eyes on the animal and back away slowly, put some obstacles between you and the animal and get back to a more populated area.

“If you can be noisy than any animals in the area, including bears, will know you are there and tend to stay away. A good way to make noise is to carry an air-horn and use it intermittently,” said Cox. “You should also carry more than one can of bear spray and have it where you can get to it very quickly.”

Cox explained that due to the wildfire a lot of older vegetation is gone, allowing newer vegetation to sprout and grow providing good food sources for the bears.

Fish and Wildlife officers will usually set a trap when the bear is displaying concerning behaviour.

“Concerning behaviour is if it’s not leaving the area when they know people are there, it is getting to garbage or other unnatural food sources,” said Cox.

You can report a bear sighting by calling the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

For more information on bears or what to do in certain circumstances you can visit Alberta BearSmart.