Residential areas across West Kelowna are being visited by hungry bears much more frequently this year.
According to WildSafeBC, bear activity is “exceptionally high” in West Kelowna, particularly in the Glenrosa, Westbank, Smith Creek, Shannon Lake and Rose Valley neighbourhoods. Bears have also been spotted around the Mount Boucherie neighbourhood.
The conservation group said bears are currently in a phase called “hyperphagia,” during which they eat significantly more than usual in preparation for the winter hibernation. They need to increase their body weight by around 30 per cent to survive the winter. Bears are often driven to lower elevations as the temperature drops to find that food in areas where there’s still greenery.
Bear sightings typically peak in September but this year there have been more than usual.
“Likely due to the drought conditions reducing natural food availability, and nearby fires displacing bears from their normal habitat areas this year, fall bear activity started earlier than usual, and is currently at an exceptionally high level,” said WildSafe.
Attractant management is “critical” right now, according to WildSafe, as human-bear conflicts usually arise when bears have access to unnatural foods such as garbage, fruit trees, and birdseed.
The following tips provided by WildSafe are the best way to minimize the chances of a bear taking a stroll through your neighbourhood:
1. Keep your garbage secure – store it indoors, in a secure shed, or in a bear-resistant enclosure.
2. Only put your garbage/yard waste/recyclables out on collection day – never the night before.
3. Manage your fruit trees so that fruit is picked as it ripens, and no windfall accumulates.
4. Bring bird feeders in from April through November – and when they are out, ensure that the ground underneath is kept free of seeds.
5. Feed pets indoors.
6. Maintain your compost so that it doesn’t smell. Add fruit slowly. Never add meat or dairy.
7. Protect fruit trees, beehives and small livestock with properly installed and maintained electric fence.
8. Respect wild animals by not feeding them. Food-conditioned wildlife are more likely to come into conflict.
9. Keep barbecues clean and odour-free.
10. Report any wildlife in conflict or bear, cougar, coyote or wolf sightings in the community to the Conservation Officer Service 24/7 at 1.877.952.7277.