The Timmins Bear Committee is asking city hall to re-visit garbage by-laws. They are talking about how this can help lower the number of nuisance bear calls, because garbage is the number once factor that attracts bears. Ministry of Natural Resources Wildlife Technical Specialist, Barbara Burkhardt, says changing the by-law to have a set fine for infractions is going to help. She also says looking at the by-law for both households and businesses will help. She says they should also look into storage, curbside schedules, and collection logistics.
The number of bear calls is actually lower this year, but Burkhardt says we can expect a rise at the end of this year and into next. She says they see a trend where calls spike every five years because of natural food failure. The last big spike was in 2011. Burkhardt says as far as this year goes, the blueberries aren’t that great so they might see a boost at the end of August, beginning of September.
Burkhardt goes on to say bears are getting smarter, and adapting to their surroundings. She says although they are attracted to garbage because of smell, sight is also a factor. There was a night in South Porcupine where people were putting their garbage out the night before pick up. The bears went to every grey garbage can, knocked them over and ate out of them, while completely leaving the blue recycling bins alone.
The committee says putting in set fines for a garbage bylaw is going to help the problem. That way, by-law officers can issue a ticket on the spot, which they can’t do now. Another part of their plan is to introduce a wildlife feeding by-law. That would include all wildlife, like foxes and raccoons. If that was implemented, the committee is suggesting putting an MNR wildlife technician to help with enforcement.
As far as the by-law stands right now, garbage can go out at 8 PM the night before pick up. Nothing has been officially changed yet, as council will continue to talk about the issue.