WildsafeBC file. Residents are reminded to continue to make sure garbage and other attractants are secure as not all bears have hibernated yet.

Bear sightings down on the Westside, deer rises

Deer are proving to be problem according to Wildsafe BC Okanagan Westside annual report

Bear sightings have gone down considerably and deer reports have almost tripled in the last three years in West Kelowna.

The annual report of the Wildsafe BC Okanagan Westside, which is partially funded by West Kelowna and Peachland, has detailed in its report that the trend has also been observed in other communities across the province.

Wildsafe BC regional representative Meg Bjordal said that the low number of bear interactions could correlate with increased education about bear proofing and good growing conditions for bear’s natural foods, in her report.

RELATED: Off-road vehicles caught in sensitive B.C. wildlife habitats to net $575 fine

There were under 100 reports of bears in 2018 compared to over 260 sightings in 2017 and 2016. Reports of injured, distressed or dead deer are on the rise and served as 88 per cent of reports from Nov. 20, 2017 to Nov, 19.

“Due to this growing trend, human-deer conflicts will need to be given a similar level of consideration as human-bear conflicts in the Okanagan Westside area,” Bjordal wrote.

Safety issues posed by the deer entering urban environments are vehicle collisions, aggressive deer that may be looking for food, or protecting fawns.

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One of the challenges facing Wildsafe BC Okanagan Westside is the lack of reporting wildlife sightings by residents, Bjordal wrote.

“There is a reluctance by the public to report black bear sightings as they are concerned that the Conservation Officers will respond by destroying the bear. Also, people have become accustomed to seeing black bears on a frequent basis and do not perceive them as a risk to public safety,” wrote Bjoral.

Looking to the new year, the program plans to work alongside commercial vineyards and orchards about bear-proofing and continuing education services for residents.

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