COLUMN: Business as usual for Nelson wildlife during pandemic

The common demoninators for human-wildlife conflicts: attractants and shelter

By Dave White

We are living in strange times of isolation and concern. Unbothered by our concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, osprey, bears, deer and other creatures that inhabit the areas surrounding Nelson are going on about their usual business. As Nelsonites, we still need be cautious with our attractants and inadvertently providing shelter for wildlife close to our homes.

From our newest and smallest animals, rats, to our largest mammals, bears, there is a convergence of attractants that is shared amongst all species that brings them into conflict with people. Compost is one of those attractants. From interviews with people who have had serious rat issues, compost seems to be the common denominator driving this conflict.

Bears seem to prefer garbage to all other attractants and, at times, their choices may seem odd. Last year I dealt with a bear that preferred a garbage can full of dirty diapers and seemed to ignore the apples on the tree right next to it. The primary attractant for skunks seems to be shelter. A garden shed that is not well skirted into the ground is a favourite location, but old concrete stairs and sidewalks with spaces beneath can also attract a skunk.

If you are having difficulties with wildlife, removing the attractants and shelter will often remove the problem. If all households adopted rodent-proof and fast-composting composters, it would greatly impact the available calories that rats can access and rat numbers would naturally decline.

Keeping garbage secure will keep bears safely in the surrounding forest and please, do still pick your apples. Carefully looking around your property and skunk-proofing stairs and outbuildings will force skunks to look elsewhere for shelter.

Whether it is garbage, fruit or compost, these are all common attractants that can bring all these species into our communities and can cause property damage and headaches. A bit of thoughtful hard work can go a long way in reducing this conflict with wildlife and help keep our communities safer.

The WildSafeBC Program in Nelson is now active for the season and if you need advice on how you can avoid conflict with any of these species, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can be reached by email at or by calling 250-505-6007.

If you are experiencing conflict with wildlife please call the Conservation Officer Service, RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277.

Dave White is the local WildsafeBC co-ordinator.

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