Apple drive saves bears

A Prince George winery is collecting apples to save bears.

Northern Lights Estate Winery is entering its fifth season partnering with the Northern Bear Awareness Society.

Over the last five years, the winery has collected more than 50,000 pounds of apples donated from residents. The goal this year is to collect more than 25,000 pounds.

“It’s so disappointing to see that people continue to not pick their apples and let them continue to rot on trees. When they do that, of course, bears come into human-populated areas and in many cases get destroyed,” says Northern Lights operating partner Doug Bell.

“We really don’t want to see that continue to happen and we really want to expose this program to more of the province, so this year we are trying to collect 25,000 pounds of apples, which we think is very achievable.”

“At this time of the year, apples are a major role-playing attractant,” says the society's Dave Bakker. “They are a high source of sugars and fattening materials that bears require before hibernation.”

Fourteen bears have been destroyed in the community so far this year.

The winery crushes the apples into juice, which is then frozen before it’s used to make apple wine.

“We blend all different types, and that is the secret of every vintage. Every year has a different flavour because it has a different concentration of ... apples,” says Noemie Touchette, the winery’s director of operations.

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