It's a message that Whistlerites have heard time and time again: secure your garbage.
But the warning apparently hasn't reached a White Gold resident, who left out a recycling box Monday, Nov. 24 that eventually resulted in the destruction of a male bear fattening up for hibernation.
The bear, which had previously been relocated, was attracted to the recycling left out on a porch and subsequently entered the occupied home through a door that the Conservation Officer Service (COS) said may not have been latched properly. Upon arrival, officers observed the bear with a food reward outside the home and subsequently destroyed the animal. A tenant was issued a $230 fine for failing to secure attractants properly.
As temperatures drop in the valley and bears prepare for hibernation, they typically go to "greater lengths" to secure food than at other times of the year, said conservation officer Tim Schumacher.
"It's really important at this time of year to make sure we don't have anything available to bears because that may just prolong them from going down (for hibernation), and then a situation like this occurs," he added.
The COs have worked hard to spread the word over the risks of leaving attractants unsecured, but the message hasn't quite sunk in yet, said Schumacher.
"People just don't seem to be getting it," he said. "Every house that I go to with a bear problem has recycling out. The pop cans, beer cans, the sugars inside of that, the bears are attracted to the smell."
Monday's incident marks the 10th bear destroyed by authorities this year, although another was shot by police last month before fleeing the scene, and is now presumed dead.
It's been a challenging season for the Whistler Get Bear Smart Society, said executive director Sylvia Dolson, who had a sobering statistic to share.
"This day marks the 251st bear to lose its life in Whistler since 1990 as a result of largely preventable human-caused conflict," she said. There are roughly 50 bears currently living in the Whistler area, Dolson said..
"Is this situation tolerable to Whistler residents? Are we willing to accept this as the way it is?" she added. "If the answer is no... then people need to stand on their values and participate in the solution."
Dolson encouraged community members to educate friends, family and neighbours on appropriate bear practices, and said the Bear Smart website is a good resource to spark discussion.
Visit www.bearsmart.com for more information.