Alberta Residents Told to Pick or Remove Fruit Trees to Avoid Bear Attacks

By: albertaarb - October 14, 2015

Tree Removal Services

Although most depictions of black bears portray them as bloodthirsty man-eaters who barely stop to chew, they are actually opportunistic omnivores who will eat anything from salmon to bugs to fruit.

When you live in a cave, you can’t afford to be a picky eater. With winter (and hibernation) drawing ever closer, the bears have begun their annual bulk up, which is proving problematic for many residents of Canmore.

Buffalo berries are one of the staples of a black bear diet, who can eat up-to 50,000-200,000 buffalo berries a day. Unfortunately, these berries had a poor crop and are getting rare, forcing the bears to look for other food sources, and the fruit trees many people have in their garden are increasingly drawing their attention.

Bears in the Neighbourhood

Last Tuesday, officers were forced to move a mother bear and her three cubs to an area north of Cochrane when they kept feeding on apples growing in backyards in Canmore. Three or four others have been sighted lurking on the edges of Canmore, drawn by the fruit crop and John Paczkowski of Alberta Parks believes that “we’ll be seeing more bears leaving town on a truck,” heading to an uncertain future.

He advises home owners to cut down their trees, for their own safety and the safety of the bears, who have an estimated 50% survival rate when they are moved to unfamiliar territory. If residents cannot or will not remove their trees, they need to bring in the fruit crop as soon as possible, and avoid leaving pet food outside.

Low bear attack numbers

On the upside, the poor buffalo berry crop has forced grizzlies to stay in higher territories to hunt, which has kept reported bear attacks quite low. In spite of this, an advisory was issued for Lac des Arcs campground when several bears were sighted, and a man was charged by a black bear on the Canyon Creek Trail northwest of Bragg Creek in July, but survived by using bear spray to drive it off. 

Paczkowski believes that “the life of a bear isn’t worth having a pretty tree,” pointing out that some Canmore dwellers have already disposed of their apple trees. With the bears forced to seek alternate food sources, you need to take steps to ensure they don’t shack up in your garden, causing damage or injury to family members. Mother bears are especially protective of their cubs, and should not be approached. If you see a bear, you should alert the local authorities as soon as possible.

Should you pick or remove your fruit tree?

Although tree removal is a last resort, there are certain circumstances when it is required. But unless your fruit tree is damaged or falling apart, removing it isn't really an option. In this case, the best thing to do is pick the trees and that will ward away the bears.

If you have more questions about tree care do not hesitate to contact us.

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