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Bearsmart Blog

Mountain-ash and Bears: Why the Big Fuss?

Mountain-ash trees are a beautiful native species to our local area. In Whistler they are also an important bear food. The berries of this tree ripen in clusters: one cluster contains about 100 berries, and one tree hundreds of clusters. These berries ripen in late fall when most other natural food sources have been depleted. They get sweeter with frost and bears love ’em.

However, there is a flip side to this equation. In Whistler, this species has been planted in high densities in urban landscapes – often in rows by the dozen. A virtual bear-food highway often located next to entry ways of houses, children’s playgrounds, and even schools.

When these food sources are located next to homes and within the urban interface, it poses a problem. Bears are drawn into neighborhoods by the mountain-ash that happens to be next to the entry way of the house – that happens to have a bag of plums just inside the door that leads to the kitchen where beef stew is simmering away on the stove. Bears that enter buildings that are occupied by people are killed because they are a human-safety concern.

SImply, if you have mountain-ash tree(s) close to your home pick the fruit or remove the tree(s).

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