Fruit trees picked clean for bear care

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Buckets were filled to the brim with crabapples outside a popular Canmore pub, picked from trees bearing the tiny red fruit by volunteers that have the Bow Valley wildlife’s well being in mind.

The glean only focused on four crabapple-laden trees on Wednesday (Sept. 7), located outside the downtown Grizzly Paw pub, but the public outreach message is clear-cut – every fruit tree on residential and public lands inside town limits, baring its ripe, hanging produce should be a reminder of its potential consequences.

“For any animal that may have an empty stomach, a fruit tree is an attractive attractant,” said Tyler McClure, Bow Valley WildSmart education and outreach coordinator.

Last year, Canmore saw firsthand the heart aching reality of a poor buffalo berry crop season – a main food source for bears in the valley.

Eight hungry black bears were removed and relocated out of the Canmore area and one killed, after being attracted to town by fruit bearing trees and plants in residential yards.

Despite the “great buffalo berry crop” this year in the Bow Valley, there are still fruit trees inside town limits and with bears entering the hyperphagia phase, which makes fattening up for winter hibernation a bruin’s top priority, the risk is still out there for Bow Valley bruins, said McClure.

An easy meal for a bruin, like a couple of hundred pounds small red and untouched crabapples on residential properties, can be a treat too tempting to pass up.

That same meal can come at a cost and ultimately lead to a bear becoming the victim for only doing what comes natural to them, said McClure.

Seeing the issue, the Town of Canmore initiated a voluntary fruit tree removal program.

Essentially, a resident living in a priority zone with a fruit tree on their property can have it removed – for free – and replaced with a non-fruit bearing tree – also at no cost.

Visit canmore.ca, under stewardship of the environment for more details on the initiative.

“Removing a fruit tree completely isn’t always an option,” said McClure, “but removing the fruit is the least we can ask people to do, as well as getting the fruit off the trees before it attracts animals in our yards.”

Gleaning all the fruit off a tree can be a difficult process, especially at the top, as learned by the wildlife conservation strategy group last season, said McClure.

So WildSmart is lending out apple picking tools to any local gleaners out there wishing to alleviate a loaded fruit tree.

“Come in and grab them at our office (Suite 201, 600A 9 Street, Canmore),” said McClure.

“The real big piece is we’re hoping this helps show people that we’re learning along with the community. When he find hurdles, we’re trying to use it as our own learning to bolster everyone’s ability.”

This is the second year WildSmart and the Grizzly Paw teamed up to glean the crabapple trees outside the popular pub on Main Street.

Some of the crabapples will be given away on Thursday (Sept. 8) at the Canmore Farmer’s Market at Farm Box’s booth, while other crabapples will be used in some Grizzly Paw chefs’ recipes and brews in the coming weeks.

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Rocky Mountain Outlook