City of Fernie launches fruit tree removal program – The Free Press

The City of Fernie has started a new program to remove poorly maintained fruit trees from public lands to reduce animal attractants in the community.

According to a Sept. 29 statement from the city, the Elk Valley and surrounding areas are experiencing the most grizzly bear conflict in British Columbia.

In 2021, 31 bears were killed in the Elk Valley by conservation officers due to addiction or injury. Twelve black bears and two grizzly bears were killed in and around Fernie, with 17 black bears killed in and around Sparwood.

“Removing fruit trees, especially from our populated areas, is an important step we need to take to improve how we manage human-wildlife interactions.”

After the record year for bear mortality in 2021, Fernie Council discussed ways to reduce attractants, including the removal, replacement and electric fencing of fruit trees.

On May 16, 2022, council heard from local wildlife biologist Clayton Lamb about the coexistence of humans and wildlife in Fernie.

Lamb said the city of Fernie has made good progress in reducing bears’ access to trash with bear-resistant trash cans, but there’s still a lot of conflict between people and bears over trees. fruit trees.

The solution to unpicked fruit trees, according to Lamb, is to pick them before the bears get the fruit (usually before they’re ripe), electrically fence the tree, or remove the tree.

“To be leaders in coexistence, I have recommended that the City of Fernie remove crab apple trees in the downtown area as well as an apple tree in Annex Park. These trees were generally unsuitable for electric fencing and required constant maintenance to be harvested, often leaving some level of attraction for bears during certain parts of the year,” Lamb said.

City staff began removing fruit trees so that in the spring the stumps and roots could be removed and new trees planted in their place.

Andrea Fletcher, Elk Valley Coordinator for WildSafe BC, said she was really excited to see and be a part of some of the steps Fernie is taking to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the valley.

“This is the direction the city has taken, and we at WildSafeBC are thrilled to see it!” she says.

“The downtown trees will be replaced with something just as green and beautiful, but also safer for our community and therefore also for our wildlife.

“If you end up with a tree that you can no longer manage properly, please contact WildSafeBC for more details on our grant program!”

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