Bear complaints in the Okanagan are up more than 60 per cent over last year, from 859 to 1,349, including a few calls about grizzly bears in the Kelowna area.
“There have been more and more sightings of grizzly bears in the last five years, since I came here,” said Conservation Officer Josh Lockwood.
And, a hunter in the Lumby area could have died when he was attacked by a grizzly bear last week—if he hadn’t been armed.
He was deer hunting in the Harris Creek Road area in the morning, in second growth forest, with his Chesapeake Bay retriever, when a grizzly charged his dog.
He yelled and the bruin changed tacks and charged him, so he fired two rounds at him from 10 metres away and immediately left the area with his dog.
He reported the incident to the CO service, and two COs located a dead grizzly bear in the area.
It was a male, estimated to be about seven years old and 550 pounds.
It’s believed it was a predatory attack on the dog, but a defensive attack on the human, and there was no evidence of a food cache nearby.
“If that hunter hadn’t shot, he probably would have died in the attack,” commented Lockwood.
Although grizzly bears are not unheard-of in the Lumby area, it’s not particularly grizzly habitat, he noted.
In the Kelowna area this fall there were reports of a grizzly in the area of the Kelowna airport, then Sunset Ranch area, then Okanagan Centre, but then he disappeared, so it’s believed he headed back up into the hills in the wild.
That same day there was a report of a grizzly in the Joe Rich area, but it’s believed he headed up Gallagher’s Canyon and into the plateau above.
The bear hit by a car last week on Highway 97 in Lake Country at Commonwealth Road was not a grizzly as earlier reported, said Lockwood. Hair left at the scene indicated it was a black bear.
Those going into the back country are advised to carry bear spray, travel in groups and remember that pets attract grizzlies.
If you do spot one, make yourself as large-looking as possible and back off. Don’t intervene if one attacks your dog, he adds. Remember to leave an itinerary when you go hiking too.
Campers and residents should be careful about managing attractants whether in the wilderness or in residential areas, he warned.
Food and garbage should be properly put away, along with dirty barbecues and pet food—and the trash should not be put out prior to the morning of your collection day.
If you have fruit trees and you’re not going to use all the fruit, contact the food bank rather than leaving it to rot and fall, attracting wild animals.