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Kelowna bears need residents to save them from garbage-induced death

In Kelowna the Wildlife Act and Bylaw prohibits trash from being left where a bear can access it
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(Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward)

A well-known bear was up to its usual antics of rifling through garbage in a community in Kelowna over the long weekend, but if the bear has any chance at survival, residents need to start securing their trash, says local Conservation Officer Ken Owens.

Over the May long weekend, Dena Fletcher was unloading groceries at her home in Kelowna’s Magic Estates community, when she noticed a black bear snacking on her neighbour’s trash in her backyard.

Fletcher is aware of bears in the area and takes great care to ensure her garbage is always bear-proof. She immediately called Kelowna’s Conservation Officers to report the hungry bear.

Conservation Officer Owens told Capital News that they are well aware of the Magic Estates black bear.

“We have a number of bears in the city, which is super normal.”

However, what is not normal, is when a furry 300 kg critter develops a taste for trash and wanders into residential areas to access it.

“I’m very concerned about it, as a Conservation Officer…I need everybody helping me out.”

He said that when bears become used to eating garbage, they pose a threat to people and pets that live in the area.

Unfortunately, when the bears become a safety risk, they have to be put down, since relocation does not work, explained Owens.

In addition to being a risk to the community, garbage is full of glass, needles, plastic and sugary foods that makes animals sick.

“We have bears accessing garbage every single day… Garbage kills bears.”

“Unless people change their behaviour, that bear will die.”

The Wildlife Act and Kelowna Bylaw states that a person must not leave attractants (like garbage bird seed and compost) in a place that may be accessible to wild animals.

To keep bears safe, and avoid a hefty fine, people need to ensure that their trash, and tasty snacks are not accessible to wildlife.

Three steps to be BearWise at home:

  1. Store trash in a building or bear safe container until the morning of pickup.
  2. Make sure your bird feeder doesn’t become a bear feeder. Keep the seed off the ground and only feed birds during the winter.
  3. Keep compost secure with a bear-resistant electric fence or container.

To learn how to keep wildlife wild and our communities safe visit www.wildsafebc.com.

To report conflicts with wildlife call the conservation hotline at 1 877 952-7277 or visit the website at www.rapp.bc.ca.


@Rangers_mom
Jacqueline.Gelineau@kelownacapnews.com

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Jacqueline Gelineau

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