Fish and Wildlife Officers warn of potential for increased bear activity

foraging-bearFall is a time when bears are on the move. Their goal is to eat as much as they can to fatten up before they hibernate for the winter. This means they will eat the first food they chance upon, even if it is in your backyard.

By following these simple steps, you can greatly reduce the chances of a bear being attracted to your property:

  • Store garbage inside, and put it out the morning of pickup rather than the night before. If possible, use bear-proof containers.
  • Remove bird feeders from April until late October. Bears will eat birdseed too!
  • Store any food, barbecues and other items that could attract bears in an odour-proof container or bear-proof building. Do not leave them out in your yard.
  • Bring pet food and feeding dishes inside overnight.
  • Practice “BearSmart” gardening and landscaping. Bears are attracted to fruit trees and shrubs, including ornamentals. Pick ripening fruit as soon as possible.

At this time of the year, Fish and Wildlife officers are busy responding to incidents where bears have gotten into unnatural food sources left out in urban or residential areas. For your safety as well as your neighbours, and to help keep bears in the wild, please ensure your yard is free of items that would attract a bear to the area. For more information about BearSmart tips, please visit www.bearsmart.alberta.ca

If a bear persistently returns to your yard or community, thereby causing a public safety concern, promptly call your local Fish and Wildlife office (toll free by dialing 310-0000 first) or the 24-hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

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Transport Officers focus on bus safety

With the start of another school year comes the start of another school bus safety initiative from Alberta’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch. This month and into the next, they are helping to ensure school buses are safe and ready to transport children.

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Officers are inspecting hundreds of school buses at locations across the province. They are examining all safety essentials, including steering, brakes, seats, exhaust systems, emergency exits, tires and lighting. Of course, children’s safety is important all year long, so these inspections are also conducted at regular intervals throughout the year.

 

School buses are required to have a mandatory government Commercial Vehicle Program Inspection (CVIP) every six months. When a part is found to not be working properly, officers will let the driver know and work with them to get the problem fixed.

 

Other drivers can also help make this a safe start to the school year by driving carefully through residential areas and following speed limits in school zones and areas with playgrounds. When a school bus turns on its alternating flashing red lights, be sure to stop so that kids can exit the bus and cross the road safely. Failing to stop when a school bus is showing its flashing red lights is a $543 fine and six demerit points. When a bus is showing amber flashing lights, motorists are required to reduce their speed to 60 kilometres per hour when passing.

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Fish and Wildlife Officers warn public not to operate vehicles in waterways

Fish and Wildlife Officers would like to remind everyone how important water bodies are for our native fish species, some of which have been deemed “threatened” by the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee.

These species include the Athabasca rainbow trout, the bull trout, and the westslope cutthroat trout. Arctic Grayling have recently been classified a “species of concern,” with a zero catch limit across the province to help aid in its recovery.

While most off-highway vehicle (OHV) operators are responsible, there are some who do not always give thought to the damage they could potentially cause to the land. Some natural areas are extremely sensitive to any kind of disturbance. Some take a long time to return to a natural state while some may never fully recover.

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Spinning tires kick up fine sediment that would not naturally occur. This sediment floats down the stream covering fish eggs, clogging the gills of fry and completely coating other aquatic species. This may cause the organisms to suffocate if they can no longer absorb oxygen from the water.

Depending on the time of year, a vehicle in a waterway may be running over large numbers of fertilized fish eggs or fry, which hinders population growth and recovery. In addition, even if there are no eggs, running a vehicle through a water body could destroy spawning grounds. Fish can only spawn in certain areas, and if there is no suitable habitat, they may not spawn at all.

When vehicles are driven into a waterway, oil and other toxins may enter the water. Mud, grass, oil, grease and seeds that machines carry are washed off into the stream. All of these are detrimental to aquatic species in that area. Mud becomes fine sediment; oil and grease wash off and are extremely toxic to all forms of life. Seeds that travel on machines could introduce invasive plant species that are then enabled to force out indigenous plant life.

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This one right way to cross a stream – perpendicular to the flow without excessive speed or spinning of wheels.

If there is a bridge nearby, even a few kilometres away, please take the extra time to use it. Repeated vehicular crossings over a waterbody can change the form and function of a watercourse. As the vehicles cross the waterbody, they erode the banks and, over time, can cause the watercourse to become wider and shallower. This reduces cover used by fish and can potentially lead to them not being able to pass through areas with low water levels. Furthermore, stream temperature is increased as there is a greater surface area absorbing sunlight. Many of our fish species, particularly trout, require clean cold water and any increases to stream temperature can cause adverse effects for these species.

Offences under the Public Lands Act, such as damaging the bed or shore of a naturally occurring waterway, or operating a vehicle in them, can result in a maximum penalty of $25,000 for first time offenses. Please report irresponsible OHV use through the Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800. We can all play a part in looking after these amazing species so that future generations can enjoy them just as we do today.

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SCAN roots out drug activity in Edmonton neighbourhood

IMG_20160727_112716Investigators from the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit have restored peace and quiet for residents of the Glenwood neighbourhood in Edmonton by shutting down a property connected to drug activity.

“Removing a person involved in drug activity from the property and closing down where it was allegedly taking place will provide a sense of safety and security for members of the community,” said Chip Sawchuk, manager of SCAN North.

A Community Safety Order (CSO) was granted in Court of Queen’s Bench under the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, which gives SCAN units the ability to target problem properties associated with criminal activity like drug trafficking.

The CSO follows a lengthy investigation that began in early 2015, after SCAN received multiple complaints from residents alleging drug activity on the property, particularly a continuous flow of people and vehicles to a detached garage behind the house.

SCAN was able to substantiate the complaint about drug activity – at one point observing approximately 30 vehicles in less than 30 hours of surveillance – and provided their information to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).

Police obtained a search warrant for the property in August 2015 using the intelligence gathered by SCAN. In the garage, EPS found 30 grams of methamphetamine and drug trafficking paraphernalia (scales and packaging), as well stolen property and imitation firearms.

Police laid charges against the one of the property owners, while SCAN served him with a warning letter and kept the premises under surveillance.

SCAN continued to document drug activity associated with the property, including an incident in April 2016 that led to a seizure of drugs and cash totalling $27,000.

SCAN obtained a CSO after the property owner failed to heed the initial warning letter issued in 2015. The owner consented to a CSO that closes the garage for six months and bars him from the property for three months – a resolution that breaks the cycle of drug traffickers and drug users coming into the neighbourhood, while allowing family members not involved in any illegal activity to remain living in the house.

Albertans who suspect illegal activity is occurring at a property in their neighbourhood can contact SCAN online or toll-free at 1-866-960-SCAN (7226). All complaints are confidential. Residents are reminded to never investigate suspected problem properties on their own.

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Commercial Vehicle Enforcement pulling out all the stops for Roadcheck 2016

The time is again upon us for one of the year’s biggest commercial vehicle safety events.

This year, Roadcheck is taking place from June 7 to 9. June is Alberta’s commercial vehicle safety month, so Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers make a special effort to share information with commercial vehicle drivers. During inspections, presentations, traffic stops and other interactions, they pass on their message about the importance of vehicle maintenance and driver fitness. They also check for compliance with federal and provincial regulations and collect inspection data.

Roadcheck 2016 will focus on tire safety. Of course, everything rides on a vehicle’s tires. Well maintained tires can run safely for hundreds of thousands of miles, but under-inflation, overloading and poor maintenance can reduce tire performance, shorten service life and cause tire failures.

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Here are some tips for commercial vehicle drivers:

  1. Know the regulations—motor carrier regulations set minimum requirements for safe tire operation, including provisions for proper inflation and loading, minimum tread depth and safe tire condition. Information can be found under the Commercial Vehicle Safety Regulation.
  2. Keep your vehicle suspension in alignments—While potentially affecting the safe control of your vehicle, improper alignment will also rapidly wear tires down. All maintenance plans should include tire/wheel/suspension alignment.
  3. Follow industry best practices for tire management—Tire inflation should be checked at regular intervals over the course of your trip. There are also resources available to assist with proper tire management. Check with the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.
  4. Understand tire specifications—Tires are rated not only for size, but for maximum load, type of service and speed of operation. Tire specifications on the information label should be followed. Inspectors may check for overloading of tire capacity when scales are in use.

While there is a special emphasis on tire safety during Roadcheck this year, officers will still check everything from exhaust systems to headlights and turn signals. When a vehicle or driver fails an inspection, they are taken off the road until the problem is solved and the carrier may also be fined.

Roadcheck will take place at inspection stations near Dunmore, Ardrossan and Leduc. Motorcoach checks will also be conducted at the Calgary airport. Ultimately, these inspections help save lives by reducing collisions and other accidents, and in turn, they help ensure the supplies, resources and goods transported on our highways make it to their destinations.

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Here are some other helpful facts about tires:

Air pressure

  • 15 per cent under inflation in a tire can shorten its service life by about eight per cent.
  • 10 PSI under inflation can cause tire wear out to be 20 per cent faster than normal.
  • Tires can lose three PSI per month due to air migration alone.
  • Tires can run up to five degrees hotter for every PSI the tire is under inflated.
  • Matching tire air pressure is critical in dual assemblies. A mismatch of five PSI can change the tire circumference and lead to undue wear.

Tread size

  • For every size that a tread width is undersized from the recommended width, mileage is reduced by 10 per cent.

Tread depth

  • Across axles and between tandem axles, tread depths need to be within 4/32”.

Wheel position

  • When matching dual tires, there should be less than ¼” difference in diameter (less than ¾” difference in circumference).
  • Left front steer tire wears faster than the right tire.

2016 marks the 29th year for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck.

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