Five black bears were shot and killed by conservation officers in the Wiltse neighbourhood in Penticton, B.C. the morning of Oct. 24 due to public safety concerns. (Karla Ziegler - Photo)

Five black bears were shot and killed by conservation officers in the Wiltse neighbourhood in Penticton, B.C. the morning of Oct. 24 due to public safety concerns. (Karla Ziegler - Photo)

UPDATE: ‘This is nearly unprecedented’: Five bears killed after roaming near Penticton school

The bears’ death come only a week-and-a-half after six more bears were killed in West Kelowna

Five black bears were shot and killed by conservation officers near Wiltse Elementary Schoold on Thursday afternoon in Penticton.

Zoe Kirk, Wildsafe BC community coordinator, said conservation officers were forced to kill the bears after they were seen roaming the neighbourhood, and at least one of them charged a teenager.

“For our region, this is nearly unprecedented,” said Kirk “They couldn’t remember in 28 years if this has ever happened before that so many bears at once had to be destroyed.”

Prior to shooting the bears she said conservation officers called the RCMP and the school was locked down to ensure the public was safe.

READ MORE: Six bears destroyed in three days in West Kelowna

According to one of two members of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service who responded to the complaint, there was no choice but to humanely euthanize the animals with high-powered rifles.

Sgt. James Zucchelli said the bears had been operating in the area for about a week to 10 days going “door to door” foraging through garbage, compost piles and fruit trees resulting in an escalation of complaints and incidents over the last two days.

“The entire situation came to a head Wednesday night when a young man was charged by a bear. We got a call from the school this morning and a photograph showing the five bears in green space within about 30 yards of the school grounds, they were all milling around while the kids were coming and going to school. So, out of concern for public safety, we had to euthanize them,” said Zucchelli, who described the bears as three adult males and two sub-adult females.

“This is a situation that reflects back on the community, there was a considerable amount of garbage, it’s the garbage that’s killing these bears, not the conservation service. The service regrets what happened today, we feel for the community, we feel for the bears and we feel for the officers involved in these situations.”

Prior to being shot, the five animals went up a large ponderosa pine tree near a residence on Ponderosa Place about 30 metres from the ground, which would have made it impossible for the conservation officers to safely euthanize the bears from that height.

“Hopefully this is a wake-up call to the community and they use this to draw the line in the sand and say this is not going to happen anymore.”

It’s the second time a group of bears have been shot in the Okanagan in the past week-and-a-half.

On Oct. 14, 15 and 16 conservation officers were forced to kill six food-condition bears near Okanagan Lake Resort.

READ MORE: West Kelowna resort denies being fined after six bears destroyed

In that case a West Kelowna business was criminally charged under the Wildlife Act and a dangerous wildlife protection order was issued. The Conservation Officer Service refused to name the business.

In an ironic twist, just as conservation officers were killing the five bears in Penticton, down the road in Naramata the community was being recognized by the province as a “bear smart” community.

Over the past five years, Naramata has dramatically reduced the number of human-wildlife conflicts thanks to bear-resistant garbage carts, bylaws restricting when residents can put out their garbage out and a grass-roots education program.

“It’s a very rude awakening and a reminder that here we are in one community celebrating the fact that the community has pulled together, manages their attracts and learns to live with bears and then just down the road it can be a different story.”

The public is also advised to call 1-877-952-7277 regarding any conflict with wildlife and related matters.

READ MORE: Naramata recognized as a ‘bear smart’ community for the second time


Paul Clarke
Assistant bureau chief, B.C. Interior South Division
Email me at paul.clarke@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three Lake Country firefighters scaled Spion Kop in support of their Movember fundraiser. (District of Lake Country photo)
Lake Country firefighters scale Spion Kop for Movember fundraiser

The three firefighters did the arduous 2.63-kilometre climb while breathing bottled air

Quigley Elementary. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: More COVID-19 cases confirmed at Kelowna Schools

Interior Health announced exposures at both Kelowna Secondary and Quigley Elementary on Sunday

Former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Richard Brodeur discussing his paintings with the executive director of the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan Kirsteen McCulloch. (Contributed)
Former Canucks goalie King Richard’s art displayed at Kelowna gallery

Richard Brodeur starred in the Vancouver Canucks’ 1982 Stanley Cup run

Real Canadian Superstore in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
Kelowna Superstore employee tests positive for COVID-19

The last day the employee worked was Nov. 23

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
RCMP issue warning after woman assaulted while walking in Rutland

On Saturday, the unknown man ran up and grabbed her in an inappropriate manner before fleeing

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A confirmed case of COVID-19 at Vernon’s Silver Star Elementary School has been reported. (Google Maps)
COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Member of Silver Star Elementary community in Vernon self-isolating at home; parents alerted Nov. 28

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Steve French caught the halo moon on his camera on Saturday night. (Steve French Facebook)
Did you see the halo moon last night?

The halo is actually millions of tiny ice crystals

Most Read