Okanagan conservation officer urges against feeding bears

Violating the Wildlife Act can lead to fines of up to $575

The warning “don’t feed the bears” is a common expression because it rings true, a North Okanagan conservation officer said.

“You may be wondering, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Well, it is a big deal,” said Ken Owens with the Conservation Officer Service.

According to Owens, black bears primary food source is vegetation, including a variety of wild berries, honey, nuts and plants. The remainder is comprised of fish, bees, insects and other small animals.

“All the food bears need to survive is found in abundance in the wild. However, a bear enjoys the mouth-watering taste of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings as much as humans do,” Owens said. Once a black bear gets a taste of human food, it wants more. Bears have a keen sense of smell and the aroma brings them running. Unlike people, they relish eating out of a garbage can, from a bird feeder or from a fruit or nut tree in your yard.”

Owens said one of the primary reasons not to feed a bear is that “a fed bear is a dangerous bear.”

Related: Ice-cream eating bear draws controversy

Related: Expanding Vernon’s WildSafeBC initiative

For the most part, bears ignore humans unless they are threatened or believe one to have food. As they don’t tend to associate humans with food, Owens said that they rarely attack.

“However, after a bear receives food from a human, it loses its instinctive fear of people. The desire for easy food overcomes its fear. Without this ‘built in’ fear, the bear approaches people in search of a quick meal. This makes a bear bold and dangerous,” Owens said, and added that fed bears become aggressive and have been known to kill humans.

Bears are generally afraid of humans, Owens said, and as such pose little threat and live their lives in the wild. However, should a bear lose that fear and develop a taste for human food, their average lifespan is significantly shorter than their nature-fed counterparts.

“Sadly, out of ignorance or because some people purposefully ignore the restrictions put in place regarding the feeding of or attracting bears, some bears must be killed. Why? Because an aggressive bear becomes much too dangerous for the human population,” Owens said. “These deaths can be avoided in most circumstances if we simply do not feed the bears or leave attractants, garbage, bird seed or compost available to bears. Let’s put an end to, ‘A fed bear is a dead bear.’ Keep your food away from the bears.”

Under the Wildlife Act in British Columbia, it is an offence to feed or leave attractants available to bears, with fines of up to $575.

Kelowna Conservation Officers and the West Kelowna Wildsafe BC Coordinator will be conducting bear attractant audits within the City of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan Regional District proactively enforcing the Wildlife Act and educating the public in removing attractants,

The public can report conflicts with dangerous wildlife, where this is a threat to public safety, to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline toll-free at 1 877 952-RAPP (7277), #7277 on the TELUS Mobility Network, or visit the RAPP website at www.rapp.bc.ca.

Attractant managing tips

  • Keep all garbage securely stored until collection day. Store attractants in a sturdy building or place in, a certified bear-resistant garbage container. Use certified bear resistant garbage containers community wide.
  • Manage your fruit/nut trees and berry bushes responsibly. Pick ripe and fallen fruit/nuts daily. Remove unused fruit/nut trees. Install bear electric fencing which is cheap and portable.
  • Bird feeders often become bear-feeders, so please-only feed birds during the winter months. Take feeders down between April and November. 1 kg of bird seed=6,600 calories. Keep ground free of seeds.

@VernonNews
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Only steps away: Gutsy Walk returns to Kelowna

The walk to cures for Crohn’s disease and colitis comes June 2

Okanagan Regional Library hosts famous author

Author of The Woo Woo, Lindsay Wong will be in Kelowna Tuesday

Mainly sunny Victoria Day in Okanagan-Shuswap

The South Okanagan is the hottest spot to be in the province for Victoria Day

Five youth-led “positive change” projects in South Okanagan receive $9,500

Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way’s GenNext give money to projects

Kelowna firefighters douse blaze in hedges

The cause of the fire on Renfrew Road is under investigation.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Letter: More cell towers, more radiation

The ever increasing electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is creating a hell-on-earth situation for… Continue reading

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

‘She was a sweetheart’: B.C. mom who died from carbon monoxide poisoning remembered

Sister raising funds to travel from Scotland to support family after tragedy

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

South Okanagan runners take top spots in Peach City RunFest

Both the top male and female half-marathon winners were from Penticton

Former Greyhound Canada employees gather in Okanagan to say a final farewell

“Greyhound may take our jobs but they will never take our friendships,” says former bus driver

Most Read