Calgarians could soon have to adjust their waste and recycling habits after a city committee approved new rules to help reduce conflicts in areas where human-wildlife encounters happen.
The decision comes after a black bear family was euthanized last year due to scavenging in trash bins.
In 2022, a black bear sow and its 3 cubs were euthanized by Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers, due to repeatedly scavenging waste carts in Discovery Ridge.
Area residents had struck a committee to help advise the city on resident perspectives on dealing with animal encounters in their neighbourhoods.
“Our biggest thing is we don’t want, not only the wildlife to get hurt, but we don’t want individuals or especially kids to be attacked by wildlife because they feel comfortable around people,” Discovery Ridge Community Association president Anil Tahiliani said back in November 2022.
“I think it’s always a trade-off between the safety of the animals versus the people living there.”
But, Ward 6 Coun. Richard Pootmans wanted to use plain language to talk about how wildlife was being handled.
“When we talk about wildlife, let’s not use the word euthanize. We are killing bears and other animals, and it’s our behaviour that’s causing it. We’re infringing on their territory, not the other way around,” said Pootmans.
“We need to consider their safety as well as ours. Having bears habituated to our behaviour and neighborhoods is not healthy for either party.”
The committee proposed amendments to the city’s waste bylaw during the July 27 meeting. The new instructions on how the city and its residents must act in regard to waste collection were passed unanimously. The bylaw amendments would next come before council during its regular meeting in September.
The new amendments would allow Waste and Recycling Services to designate temporary “wildlife affected areas” as needed, based on reports of problematic wildlife and how wildlife interacts with waste.
When a wildlife-affected area is designated, residents would be required to:
- Make sure that residential waste carts and extra waste be set out no earlier than 5:00 a.m. on collection day.
- Make sure that residential waste carts be put away no later than 7:00 p.m. on collection day.
- Make sure that residential waste carts and extra waste be stored in a garage, shed, or other secure enclosures.
Suggested penalties for infringement of the bylaw wound range from $250 to $1,000.
The committee said the proposed amendments came from an “education first” approach to waste collection.
After some input from the Discovery Ridge community, and research into practices in other municipalities, the city started a bear awareness campaign in Discovery Ridge in May. This campaign was based on storing waste in a secure enclosure and limiting overnight waste cart set-out.
Sergeant Scott Kallweit from Alberta Fish and Wildlife said the focus of this approach should be bears.
He said that municipalities have a broader ability to deal with other lower-risk wildlife such as bobcats and coyotes, and that those species typically cause less wildlife-human conflict than bears.
“Bears are more dangerous, especially when they are younger. Younger bears will tend to be more curious and wander away from the river beds they are used to, so at times they will be in the residential parts of the city,” Kallweit said.
“Usually, we get reports and intercept them before it gets to that point. There is a lot of information online for parents and children, and I always recommend that everyone should read it.”