Bears’ return heightens risk of conflict with humans

Conservation Office reports problems with bears encountered in Summerland, Oliver and Peachland

Bears are waking from their winter slumber and already finding themselves in trouble, according to a conservation officer.

Oliver, Summerland and Peachland have already had conflicts reported directly to the Conservation Officer Service.

“Most of the bear activity begins at the end of April, first part of May. This year has been a little bit subdued because of the rather cold, begrudging spring we have been experiencing, but we do have some bear activity occurring now,” said conservation officer Jim Beck.

“We had one particular problematic bear in Oliver that had been getting into freezers and going right into people’s porches and decks. It broke into one freezer and was on top of another one trying to gain access. In lower Summerland, we had a bear that has been a bit of a problem. Again, it was on people’s decks and yards.”

The conservation officer is reminding people to not store pet food outside because it can attract bears right to your deck or door, and bird feeders should also be taken in at night.

“A lot of times when bears are first starting to get into trouble they are night active. As their comfort level increases, they become more day active and that is when our safety concern gets higher. We are also starting to get some heat now and people should be cleaning out their garbage cans to make sure there is no odour. If they can smell it, a bear can smell it, as they have 10 or 15 times better scent detection than our noses,” said Beck. “One taste of garbage is enough to trigger that habituation cycle.”

To reduce the chance of a bear conflict while in the wild, always check ahead for bears in the distance, and if one is spotted make a wide detour and leave the area, make warning noises and loud sounds. If a bear is standing up, it typically is trying to identify you. It is recommended to talk softly, move away without running and keep the bear in view but not make direct eye contact.

Beck said he would like all communities to  take the steps Naramata has to become certified Bear Smart. This is an education program focused on reducing human-bear conflict in residential neighbourhoods through education, innovation and co-operation.

“Naramata is quite progressive with what they have in place. If the communities throughout the Okanagan could work towards Bear Smart status then it makes our job that much easier. We may always have some problem bears, but the number is reduced,” said Beck, who previously worked in the prime bear habitat in the Revelstoke area and saw initiatives taken by the community significantly drop the number of bears they had to deal with.

Last year, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen passed a bylaw that fines Naramata and electoral area E residents if they place garbage curbside prior to 5 a.m. on the day of pickup. The only exception is if trash is placed in a bear-proof container. A pilot program with BFI Canada and the RDOS was deemed a success after residents were allowed to try bear-resistant carts to put their garbage into. The carts are now available for all residents. Before a community can become Bear Aware, they must first obtain Bear Smart status — a preventative measure with a series of criteria that address the root causes of human-bear conflicts. Naramata is actively pursuing this status.

The province announced last month that they are providing $225,000 over the next 12 months to bring the Bear Aware program to more communities.

“Our continued support of the Bear Aware program, without a doubt, has reduced the number of bears that have to be destroyed,” said Minister of Environment Terry Lake. “We’re making this funding available so that more communities can learn how to keep bears out of their yards and neighbourhoods — and that helps keep bears out of trouble.”

To report a bear sighting or conflict contact the Conservation Office 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).

 

Just Posted

The City of Penticton is beginning plans to revitalize its north entrance on Highway 97. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton reviewing ideas on how to make the city’s north gateway more vibrant

The city has plans to redevelop the area into a welcoming and attractive entrance

People decided to tag Skaha Bluffs rocks which the Ministry has to go in and now clean up. (Facebook)
Bluffs at popular Penticton rock climbing park defaced

Ministry of Environment is going to clean it up

A portion of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail near Naramata will be closed temporarily for upgrade work, including paving. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Upgrades plannned for trail near Naramata

Surface improvement work will mean temporary trail closure

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Skaha Bluffs climbing spots. (Monique Tamminga)
New parking lot and picnic area coming to Penticton’s Skaha Bluffs

The city will turn the access point at Crow Place into a parking and picnic area

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

Vernon Courthouse. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Sentencing delayed in North Okanagan child pornography case

Man who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography will have new sentence date fixed next week

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Phil McLachlan/(Black Press Media
Man shot at Kamloops shopping centre

The man is believed to be in stable condition

Most Read