Bear resistant garbage bins roll out in Fort Nelson

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Tom Summer Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
The Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) supports the creation of original civic journalism. Tom Summer works under the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John. The content that is produced will be made available to media organizations through a Creative Commons license so that Canadians can be better informed.

Fort Nelson is looking to clamp down on problem wildlife with plans to roll out 65 bear-resistant garbage bins for homeowners.

The bins are being designed in partnership with WildsafeBC, a provincial conservation program, as the Northern Rockies municipality works to become a “bear smart” community.

“We’ve got a locking mechanism thing that we sort of invented here for bears in our community, because last year was the first time in a long time that we had grizzly bears in town,” said Mayor Gary Foster.

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The town is used to the occasional stray black bear wandering through town, but not grizzlies, Foster said.

Unwashed and unsecured garbage bins remain the largest bear attractant, and residents are required to store them indoors when not placed outside for pickup.

A small number of homeowners, however, lack a garage or another secure place to store their carts. So the municipality worked with a local welding fabricator to develop a prototype, and modify existing spare and replacement bins to be bear-resistant.

The bins will cost $9,100 for the 65 approved by council at its July 13 meeting. 

“We’re trying to get to the point where we have less bear attractants around. We just don’t want bears to get into garbage and start eating it,” said Foster. “Then you can’t get rid of the damn things, and you end up having to shoot them.”

Email reporter Tom Summer at [email protected]

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