tofino bear smart - reduce your garbage

Tofino Bear Smart: Reduce your garbage!

the letter 'W'What's black, fuzzy, has four legs and a sense of smell two thousand times stronger than a human's? Ursus americanus - the black bear. Its keen sense of smell helps it find the closest available meal.

The number one non-natural attractant in our community is garbage and the tantalizing scent can be detected by bears up to 5 kilometres away. If odorous garbage is stored in a workshop, garage or other similar structure, bold bears may attempt to break in to access this attractant. By cutting down the amount and the odour of garbage stored for a period of time, the risk of such an occurrence is reduced.

The two biggest tools to reducing the amount of garbage in your household are recycling and compost. Be sure to check all packaging before throwing it away to see if it can be recycled, you may be surprised at what can be put in the blue box! Many municipalities will not collect glass, but provide central recycling centres for the public to dispose of their glass, along with any excess recycling such as newspapers, magazines, cardboard, boxboard, aluminum, plastics etc. Please remember that these centres are not appropriate dumping areas for household garbage. If you have more grocery bags than you know what to do with, ask your local supermarket if they take back grocery bags for recycling; many do! Even better, reuse them for future shopping or purchase nylon/fabric reusable totes.

Composting is not only a great way to cut down on household garbage but also provides nutrients to gardens and flowerbeds. Proper layering techniques will ensure low odour and healthy compost. Cover all food scraps completely with dry materials such as shredded newspaper or leaves and be sure to turn your compost regularly to aerate. Compostable materials include vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, shredded newspaper and grass clippings. Proteins and/or bones are not compostable and will attract animals. Rinse meat packaging well before disposing of it and consider storing strong odour material like this in a plastic bag in the freezer until it is time for pick up.

The answer to garbage reduction is not illegally dumping excess waste into greenbelts or similar locations. Not only is it unsightly it is environmentally irresponsible. Garbage is an un-natural food source for wildlife, poses high risks to their health, encourages food-conditioning and many materials may cause strangulation; not to mention the poisoning of surrounding watershed. "Out of sight, out of mind" is not the solution. If you see illegal dumping, be sure to record details (photograph if possible) and report the occurrence immediately to 1.877.952.7277.
Waste management is a collective effort--make your actions a positive example.

This initiative is supported by the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District. For questions or concerns regarding waste reduction please contact Brenda Fortais at 250.720.2709 or

To report any wildlife-human interactions where public safety may be at risk, call the Conservation Officer Service at 1.877.952.RAPP (7277).

For more Bear Smart info, questions, concerns or to volunteer please contact Dawn Boyce at 250.723.2187 or, or Christina Brack 250.723.9200

Christina Brack is a Bear Smart BC Society Volunteer and Crystal McMillan is the Executive Director of the Bear Smart BC Society.

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Tofino Time Magazine July 2010

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tofino time july 2010