Bears are back and they’re hungry

WildSafeBC wants to reduce wildlife conflicts in West Kelowna/Peachland

Reports of bears roaming for food in unsecured garbage throughout Glenrosa this week is a reminder of the human-wildlife conflict that exists across the Okanagan.

Meg Bjordal, the WildSafeBC coordinator for West Kelowna and Peachland, said spring and fall are the most common periods for conflicts to arise.

“In the spring, bears are coming out of hibernation and they are hungry and food is a not as abundant as during the summer months, and in the fall they are bulking up again for hibernation,” said Bjordal.

“It’s kind of a mixture of factor at work there from food availability to bear biology.”

Related: Bears looking for food

Last year for Peachland and West Kelowna there were 439 wildlife conflict reports between Jan. 1 and Nov. 20. Black bears accounted for about 52 per cent of wildlife reports in West Kelowna and 80 per cent in Peachland.

Other wildlife sighting reports included deer, coyotes, cougars and rattlesnakes.

The WildSafeBC program, supported by the BC Conservation Foundation as the successor to the provincial Bear Aware program which saw its funding eliminated, is entering its third year on the Westside region.

Bjordal said while bears remain a focus because of their common interaction with local residents, WildSafeBC also address issues regarding deer, coyotes, cougars and wolves through public education programs, training sessions and community outreach at local events.

The outreach aspect will see Bjordal representing the program at Westside Daze on June 30, Peachland Farmers Market on July 15 and Aug. 19, Westbank Farmers Market on July 28 and B.C. Goes Wild Weekend sponsored by WildSafeBC on Sept. 15-16.

The garbage issue, she says, is a common flash point of conflict between bears and residents.

“I think some of it has to do with new people moving into an interface neighbourhood and not being familiar with living in a wildlife area, and people getting into bad habits during the winter when the animal conflict issues aren’t as much an issue,” she said.

Wildlife conflicts can be reported to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 or online at the WildSafeBC’s wildlife alert reporting program at www.wildsafebc.com/warp.

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