If you think you’ve seen more bears in your backyard than usual, you’re right. A berry crop failure in the alpine, caused by the heavy snowpack and cold spring and summer, is sending more bears to the valley bottom to seek food as they begin to fatten up for hibernation. It’s more important than ever, to bear proof your home and dispose of garbage correctly in bear-proof bins. Brian Barnett, co-chair of the Whistler Black Bear Task Team, reminds residents that failure to correctly store and dispose of garbage is an offence. "The biggest problems are people who leave garbage on their balcony or patio," says Barnett. "Bears will climb stairs and go over or through fences to get at garbage, pet food or a bird feeder. Don’t store garbage in your vehicle, and close your windows when cooking so the smell doesn’t attract bears. Burn clean barbecues, cover them, and store them inside. Feed your pets indoors and don’t store pet food outside." If you have fruit trees or berry bushes, remove fruit as it ripens and pick up any that has fallen to the ground. Bring bird feeders in for the duration of the bear season. Remind neighbours to bear-proof their homes as well. Bears are oblivious to fences or property lines. If you see a bear, don’t panic. Bring children and pets indoors. If you’re walking or biking, don’t approach a bear. Back up slowly and speak in a quiet voice. Bears usually head for their dens in November. For more information on bear-proofing your home, contact municipal hall at 932-5535.