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Bear awareness blitz carried out

Conservation officers in Peachland invoked what is fairly new legislation in areas of Peachland  on Wednesday to address persistent bear problems.

The COs conducted a residential area blitz of homes in one area of  Peachland, which resulted in a number of orders for occupants to remove bear attractants.

Conservation officer Bob Hamilton says there’s been more bear complaints from the Peachland area than elsewhere in the South Okanagan so far this year, particularly in the community’s western corner, north of Princeton Avenue.

With Wednesday’s neighbourhood blitz, officers went door-to-door to talk to residents about what attracts bears and to evaluate what may be drawing bears onto their properties.

They were assisted by forest compliance officers and Bear Aware staff.

In the end, three property-owners were issued a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order to remove bear attractants.

At one other residence, a number of issues were noticed but no one was at home, so officers will visit a second time and likely issue a DWPO then, said Hamilton.

The DWPO is relatively new legislation under the Wildlife Act, and can be used where officers feel a serious bear attractant is enticing the wild animals to come into a neighbourhood.

Kelowna CO Ed Seitz said the legislation has previously not been used very much in the Central Okanagan yet, but there are areas where it might be a beneficial tool, such as the Glenrosa and Powers Creek areas where they deal with a lot of human/bear conflicts.

Already this year, three bears have had to be taken out of that area and killed because they had become aggressive and dangerous.

“People either leave garbage out or they put it out too early and it attracts bears,” he explained.

Although there were a lot of problems with bears early this spring—likely because it was a late spring and green-up higher up out of the valley was later than normal—things seem to have eased off here right now as the wild berries are now ripe, he said.

Hamilton said they contacted Peachland residents at 56 homes and most were doing well managing bear attractants.

They took the opportunity to talk to people about the problem and how to reduce the likelihood of attracting bears.

Three other homeowners were given verbal warnings about the attractants on their properties.

“Sometimes the higher incidence of bear complaints can be because of natural bear travel corridors in the area, bear habitat and proximity to orchards,” he said. “But, there is a lot that humans can do to reduce and eliminate unwanted bear visits.”

Although garbage is the most common attractant, pet food left out, dirty barbecue grills, bird feed and tree fruit also are enticing to a hungry bear.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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