Conservation officers are investigating issuing a violation of attracting dangerous wildlife after they had to destroy a bear in Penticton on Tuesday.
“This is a human problem, not a bear problem,” said Conservation Officer Mike Stern. “There was a bear in the area for several weeks and local residents expressed concern. People are upset the bear was destroyed, which is understandable, but this bear was human-habituated, showing activity in the daytime and had basically lost its fear of humans.”
Stern said the investigation is ongoing on possible attractants being left out in Riva Ridge, south of the city, that brought the two-year old male bear to the area. He said this can include garbage being left out, business waste and other waste collecting facilities not being properly enclosed to keep wildlife away. A minimum charge for a violation ticket is a $575 fine.
“There is no reason for a bear to move to natural food sources in the mountain if they are accessing human garbage. They might subsidize their diet with fruit in the area, but if garbage is easily accessible they don’t leave. It is pretty simple. If you leave garbage out eventually you are going to have a bear come by. We often feel like a broken record because we say this message several times a year, but it seems people don’t always get it,” said Stern.
Bear complaints throughout the province have doubled since last year, according to the provincial conservation services. Most of those were about bears getting into human attractants like garbage or fruit trees in developed areas.
“Our job is to keep the bears alive but we are dealing with, on average, around 600 complaints in our area in a summer and we have individuals refusing to manage attractants, so it can be very frustrating,” said Stern. “This is an issue throughout the whole Okanagan. When people don’t manage attractants we have these bears that stay and basically create a human safety threat.”
WildSafeBC said bears can smell food from over a kilometre away and garbage accounts for 55 per cent of human-wildlife conflict calls. To keep bears from lingering, they suggest storing garbage in a secure building until collection or consider purchasing a bear-resistant household container. Ensure bins are tightly closed and regularly wash all recycling items and clean the bins that contain garbage or recycling. For more tips visit www.wildsafebc.com. More bear aware tips can be found at www.rdos.bc.ca.
Report all conflicts with wildlife, poachers, and polluters to the B.C. Conservation Officer reporting line 1-877-952-7277.