The garbage and recycling pickup order is set to reverse in 108 Mile Ranch in an attempt to alleviate its bear issue.
Garbage will be picked up first thing in the morning and recycling in the afternoon.
The quick and simple solution came after the Conservation Officer Service had to shoot two bears who had been going through garbage that had been left out in 108 Mile Ranch. Two more bears had also been sighted in the area.
Al Richmond, the electoral director for 108 Mile Ranch, said the change will take place at the next recycling cycle, Sept. 19 and 20.
“We’re still begging people, please don’t put your garbage out the night before. Changing the pickup order is not going to help, it’s not going to solve the problem when your garbage sits out all night.”
Central Cariboo Disposal and Gold Trail Recycling are both on board with the short-term change, said Richmond, but it comes at additional time and cost.
“We’ll do it starting now until November when the bear issue is over, then we’ll look for a more permanent solution.”
Conservation officer James Zucchelli said in a phone interview on Sept. 5, the day they had to shoot the bears, that it’s people’s carelessness, not officers who are at fault when these bears are killed.
“There was a ton of garbage that was left out last night around the 108 and there was four different bears that were raiding people’s unsecured attractants,” he said.
“So this is garbage cans that are right up against people’s houses, in their carports. People are inviting these large predators into their yards and it’s creating a public safety threat that we as conservation officers cannot tolerate.”
Wednesday, Sept. 5 was garbage day on one side of 108 Mile Ranch and Zucchelli said he counted 30 garbage cans that had been raided by bears on Kyllo Road, Block Drive, Gloimzun Drive, Easzee Drive, Smith Road, Monical Road, Kallum Drive and Thompson Road.
Shelby Raymond, a 108 Mile Ranch resident, said she was concerned, not about the presence of bears, but because of people’s apparent reluctance to control their attractants.
“People are like, ‘Well, you know, I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never had to pay attention to this.’ Then you got lucky because the 108 is on a wildlife migration route and it’s especially true for bears,” she said.
Raymond and her husband moved down from Terrace about a year ago. She said they frequently had bears on their street, but rarely had conflicts because they were “very diligent.”
“Terrace is a bigger community and it did have a full-time bylaw enforcement officer and so monitoring attractants was one of his duties.”
She said the local women’s shelter also had a program where they would pick the fruit from trees if the residents couldn’t do so themselves, then can the fruit and use it for the food bank.
Without these options, it’s up to residents to keep their garbages secured and their fruit trees cleaned.
“If you don’t want to see bears getting shot on your street, you need to take control of your attractants,” she said.
Raymond set up a Facebook page called 108 Mile Ranch Bear & Wildlife Safety where she hopes to help educate and encourage people to safeguard their garbage so bears will not become habituated to human food sources.
When asked whether there has been an increase in bear activity in the area, Zucchelli said they go through this same kind of thing every year.
“It seems like people go for four months and don’t have any problems with their garbage so they just continue to store it outside … We can almost time it with the calendar. The bears are trying to fatten up to go into hibernation. It’s not different than any other year.”
Over the past month, he said they (the Conservation Officer Service) received 21 calls for service about bears. That’s just in the 100 Mile House and the surrounding area.
“Unfortunately, these bears have lost all their natural fear of people,” he said. In this case, they become a public safety threat and must be put down.
Calls had been coming in from the 108 all last week, reporting bears breaking into secure buildings where garbage is stored, he said.
In one case, Zucchelli said someone was trying to scare a bear off their neighbour’s garbage when the bear turned on him, pounded the ground and popped his jaws at him.
When bears are startled or start to become defensive over their food source, that’s when he said, “things can go sideways.”
Officers continued to patrol the area and Zucchelli said there was no reason for public concern, “it’s not a predatory situation.”
But he said people do need to start using “common sense” and secure their garbage and keep their fruit trees properly cleaned.
Another problem, he said, is when people post these incidences on Facebook instead of making an official report.
At press time, the Conservation Officer Service had not returned our follow-up request for information on the other two bears.
To report conflicts with wildlife call 1-877-952-7277.