A local conservation officer hopes a flurry of recent bear sightings in Penticton will serve as a reminder to people to not leave out anything of interest to hungry bruins trying to bulk up for winter.
“We’re in the thick of bear season,” said Jeff Hanratty, who cited attractants like garbage and fruit trees as the source of most conflicts to which he’s dispatched.
According to an online database listing reports made to B.C. conservation officers, four of 10 bear sightings in the city between Sept. 16 and Sept. 24 were along Ellis Creek, where Hanratty said bruins were dining primarily on people’s garbage.
“The thing about these guys is they usually don’t go away once they’ve been fed,” he noted.
“This time of year, it’s critical for them to get their calories on before they go and den up. They’ve got a biological drive to find that food, and they’ve got a nose that is better than any bloodhound for finding this food, and our society continues to leave out, essentially, bait for them.”
The six other recent sightings were in the south end of Penticton between Cornwall and Guelph avenues, prompting another wildlife specialist to consider localized education campaigns.
“If I get three or four calls from (an) area… then I know to get on the ground and do some door-to-door” work, said Zoe Kirk, the WildsafeBC community co-ordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
She encouraged anyone who spots a bear to report it immediately to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service hotline.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean anything is going to happen to that bear, but what it does do is puts a pin on the map that says: bear sighting, this big, going this direction, on this day,” Kirk explained.
“And then if something happens further down the road, sometimes you can see a pattern of escalation with a bear, and then you can try and intercede before they get to the point where they have to destroy it.”
The hotline is available 24 hours a day and can be reached at 1-877-952-7277.