What you do really matters

The natural curiosity of bears brings them into our communities. While exploring our residential area, they become ensnared in a web of garbage and other attractants. Bears are ruled by their stomachs; if they cannot find the food they need, they soon leave the area. Foraging in communities is a learned behaviour that threatens the safety of both bears and residents. If people do not make bear attractants such as garbage and fruit trees available, we can minimize human-bear conflict.

The WildSafeBC and the WildSafeBC Elk Valley websites are great sources of information about bears and how to keep bears and people safe.

If you see a bear, please phone the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service toll free at 1.877.952.7277

The District's Community Standards Bylaw is part of its ongoing commitment to being a Bear Smart community and keeping citizens and bears safe.  The bylaw provides regulations for waste and wildlife attractant management to help reduce human-bear conflict.

  • How you can help keep yourself and bears safe

    Sparwood is bear country and it is important to be aware and prepared.   If you manage the bear attractants around your house, worksite or campsite you can keep your family safe and keep bears from being destroyed.  There are a number of things that you can do:

    • Keep all garbage securely stored until collection day.  Placing garbage at the curb before collection day is not only poor behaviour but it is illegal under Utility and Solid Waste Management Bylaw.  Garbage should be kept in a secured shed or garage until pick up day.
    • Manage your fruit trees and berry bushes responsibly.  Pick all fruit as it ripens and ensure that windfalls do not accumulate.
    • Bird feeds often become bear-feeds, so please – only feed birds during the winter months.
    • Feed pets indoors, or if fed out of doors, take in any feed that is not immediately eaten and don’t leave dog bones lying around in your yard.
    • Keep your dog on a leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behaviour in bears.
    • Clean your fish a good distance away from camp. While fishing, if a bear approaches within 50 metres (or 100 m for a female with cubs), reel in your line or cut the line and leave the area immediately.
    • Keep your barbecue clean and free from odours.  Burn off the grill every time after use and clean out the grease traps.
    • Manage your compost properly.  Composts should have equal parts of brown and green materials added to reduce odours.
    • Never feed or approach a bear.
  • Fines & Offences

    The District’s Community Standards Bylaw states that you may not feed or store wildlife attractants in such a way that they are accessible to or attracts dangerous wildlife.  The Bylaw Enforcement Officer may take remedial action if a resident fails to do so.  Remedial action may include, but is not limited to removal of cooking grills, pet food, bird feeders or any other wildlife attractants deemed unsafe.

    The following table reflects the applicable fines when a person violates the above restrictions:

    1st Offence 2nd Offence 3rd & Subsequent
    Unlawfully feed dangerous wildlife $500 $750 $1,000
    Place attractants for dangerous wildlife $500 $750 $1,000
    Unlawful disposal or storage of waste or fail to use an approved wildlife container $100* $150* $200*
    Fail to maintain fruit tree/brush $500* $750* $1,000*
    Unlawful placement of birdfeeder $500* $750* $1,000*
    Fail to take remedial action to avoid wildlife contact or conflict $500* $750* $1,000*

    Note* Fines are reduced by 50% if paid within 30 days of ticket issuance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Can a bear climb a tree?

    All black bears and young grizzlies are agile tree climbers; mature grizzlies are poor climbers, but they have a reach up to 4 metres.

  • Do bears run fast?

    Bears can run more than 60 kilometres an hour, and they can do it up hills, down hills or along a slope. To put that in perspective, it's more than twice as fast as we can run. In fact, a bear can outrun a racehorse over short distances but has little endurance.

  • What do I do if I see a bear?

    If spotted in the distance, do not approach the bear. Make a wide detour or leave the area immediately. If you are at close range, do not approach the bear.  Remain calm, keep it in view.  Avoid direct eye contact.  Move away without running.

  • What do I do if a bear approaches me?

    If the bear is standing up, it is usually trying to identify you.  Talk softly so it knows what you are.  If it is snapping its jaws, lowering its head, flattening its ears, growling or making 'woofing' signs, it is displaying aggression.

    Do not run unless you are very close to a secure place.  Move away, keeping it in view.  Avoid direct eye contact.  Dropping your pack or an object may distract it to give you more time.  If it is a grizzly, consider climbing a tree.

  • What do I do if a bear attacks?

    Your response depends on the species and whether the bear is being defensive or offensive.  Bears sometimes bluff their way out of a confrontation by charging then turning away at the last moment.  Generally, the response is to do nothing to threaten or further arouse the bear.  While fighting back usually increases the intensity of an attack, it may cause the bear to leave.

    • If a grizzly attacks from surprise (defensive), do nothing to threaten or further arouse the bear. Play dead.  Assume the 'cannonball position' with hands clasped behind neck and face buried in knees. Do not move until the bear leaves the area.  Such attacks seldom last beyond a few minutes.
    • If a black bear attacks from surprise (defensive), playing dead is not appropriate.  Try to retreat from the attack.
    • If a grizzly or black bear attacks offensively (including stalking you or when you are sleeping), do not play dead.  Try to escape to a secure place (car or building) or climb a tree unless it is a black bear.  If you have no other option, try to intimidate the bear with deterrents or weapons such as tree branches or rocks.
    • If a grizzly or black bear attacks for your food, abandon the food.  Leave the area.

    Report your incident to the BC Conservation Office Service at your first opportunity.

For general information on managing your waste responsibly please contact the Bylaw Enforcement Officer at 250.425.6271 (District Office), 250.425.6820 (Animal Pound) or by email at bleo@sparwood.ca.  Additional information is available within our Tip Sheet, Be Bear Smart Brochure, Human-Bear Conflict Prevention.

It is important for residents, visitors, business owners and property managers to become familiar with bear smart practices in the community.