Bears were sighted close to homes in a Summerland neighbourhood near the end of October.
Sgt. James Zucchelli, with the Conservation Officer Service’s South Okanagan Zone, said the department received reports of bear sightings in the area above the James Lake Industrial Area.
He explained that bears are not hibernating in the area and are still searching for food. This includes garbage containers left outside as well as garbage bins set out at the curb the night before collection.
“As long as there’s a food source and temperatures are up, they’re going to be out there,” he said.
Bears’ metabolism will slow down during the winter, but hibernation is weather-dependent. In areas with mild winters, bears can remain active throughout the year, Zucchelli said.
Over the years, the Conservation Officer Service and WildSafe B.C. have repeatedly urged South Okanagan residents not to store garbage outside and not to set out their garbage containers until the morning it is to be picked up.
“They’re taking advantage of people’s irresponsibility,” Zucchelli said of the bears. “If there’s garbage stored outside, it’s an offence under the Wildlife Act.”
While garbage is a significant attractant, nut trees, such as walnut and hazelnut trees, are also a food source for bears.
Zucchelli said managing and cleaning up around nut trees is not as easy as keeping garbage inside until the day it is to be picked up.
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