Attractants are a major source of interaction between bears and other wildlife and humans. Attractants include natural foods such as fruit- and berry-producing shrubs and trees, and unnatural foods such as garbage, compost, bird feeders, pets and livestock.
Attractant management is essentially a food management program designed to lessen potentially dangerous wildlife activity in and near residential neighbourhoods, schools, campgrounds and trails. Both natural and unnatural attractants are removed, allowing bears and other wildlife to feed in safer locations, such as habitat patches in the mountain parks.
Since 2007, the Bow Valley community has identified and implemented several wildlife attractant management strategies. In 2018, the Bow Valley Human-Wildlife Coexistence Technical Working Group highlighted the ongoing importance of attractant management in several of its Recommendations for Improving Human-Wildlife Coexistence in the Bow Valley.
buffalo berry removal
In partnership with Alberta Environment and Parks and the Town of Canmore, WildSmart launched a berry removal program in 2007. The program primarily targets buffalo berries (Shepherdia canadensis), which are a favourite food of grizzly and black bears. It has also removed dogwood and choke cherry bushes.
All berry removal efforts take place in high human-use areas where bear activity could pose a danger to people and bears. In Canmore, bushes have been cleared from the Rundleview subdivision and the Quarry Lake area. On provincial lands, berry bushes have been removed from the Grassi Lakes Trail, Legacy Trail and select trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre, and from the Bow River, Spray West and Three Sisters Campgrounds. The berries are cleared on at least 10 metres of both sides of trails and campsites.
Removal efforts are ongoing, as many berry bushes grow back. This work would not be possible without help of the Wildlife Ambassadors and other volunteers, who have donated hundreds of hours to removing berry bushes as well as crab apples from trees around Canmore.
Residents from throughout the Bow Valley can also come to the Biosphere Institute office in Canmore to borrow our extendable fruit pickers and pruning shears, which are available free of charge and allow citizens to remove fruit and berry bushes on their property.