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Bylaws save bears

Bylaws reflect a community’s overall principles and values and are meant to evolve as the community’s standards and norms shift.

Local government councils, or boards, create policy through bylaw adoption and can provide direction to enforcement staff in relation to enforcement priorities. Bylaw enforcement actions can range between compliance-focused (gaining voluntary compliance through education, warnings, mediation) and enforcement-focused (by issuing bylaw offense notices/tickets, seeking injunctions). Bylaws must have a degree of fairness and reasonableness and be designed with the unique needs of the community in mind and updated as these needs change (Office of the Ombudsperson, Province of British Columbia, 2021).

For an example of a wildlife attractant bylaw, view and download: Bylaw Toolkit.

This toolkit provides insights into the process for creating a stand-alone wildlife attractant bylaw as well as the option for incorporating wildlife attractant considerations into an existing bylaw. In addition to the Wildlife Attractant Sample Bylaw is a guide with a step-by-step approach to understanding the various sections of the Sample Bylaw.

Why wildlife attractant bylaws are necessary

While the management of wildlife is a provincial responsibility, the regulation and management of refuse and other wildlife attractants that bring wildlife into communities is the responsibility of local government. This can be accomplished by (1) educating residents and visitors; and (2) by adopting bylaws that assist with minimizing, to the greatest extent possible, the availability of anthropogenic (human) foods and other substances.

Local government, whether a municipality or regional district, is responsible for providing a comprehensive range of services that enhance many aspects of life for its citizens and play a key role in ensuring the overall health, safety and well-being of their community. Creating a wildlife attractant bylaw is inherently within the scope of this local government responsibility as it improves public health and safety.

It is worth noting that local government elected officials/councils can direct enforcement staff to prioritize specific bylaws and can also provide direction on the enforcement process, such as when to provide more warnings than tickets and vice versa. Currently, wildlife is being killed in direct relation to being fed, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Local governments must place a higher priority on the creation and enforcement of these wildlife attractant bylaws to reduce the potential for human injury, injury to pets/livestock, agricultural losses, or property damage; and to reduce, and potentially eliminate, the needless and preventable human-caused loss of local wildlife.