BC Conservation Services is asking Penticton and area residents to manage bear attractants after more bruins are coming down Christie Mountain into neighbourhoods, looking for food.
According to Conservation Services Sgt. James Zucchelli, there is little new growth since last summer’s wildfire on Christie Mountain.
“Nothing has greened up for them to eat on Christie Mountain so they are coming down the mountain to find food. We are getting a lot of calls from people living in that area,” he said.
They are asking that residents keep their garbage in the garage or some closed in area until it is garbage day. They are also asking that people don’t put out bird feeders. Barbecues that haven’t been cleaned are also a big attractant to bears whose sense of smell is far reaching.
Compost can also be an attractant, said Zucchelli.
“Communities need to work together to make neighbourhoods unattractive to bears, with the biggest thing being not putting garbage outside,” he said.
He cites Naramata as a community who came together. In Naramata, where bear encounters were once far more frequent, the community has taken measures to keep bear attractants away. The efforts have resulted in a drop in the number of bear encounters. In the past five years, three bears have been removed in that community. In past years, the number was much higher, he said.
“The last thing we want to be is garbage police and we don’t have time to be.” Fines can be handed out but he hopes it doesn’t get to that point.
But if the bears come to know an area to have food for them, they will continue to go there.
“It puts us in a precarious situation as conservation officers. We don’t want it to get to the point where a bear becomes aggressive or habitualized,” he said.
In Summerland, conservation had to put down a bear last week after it became unafraid of people. The bear had come around after garbage had been left out.
Also, Zucchelli asks that residents report bear sighting because it provides some history on a bear in a neighbourhood.
“We are not going to destroy a bear on the first call,” he said. “But if we don’t hear about a bear, we don’t know its history.”
A good reference on how to be bear aware is WildSafe BC. Report all wildlife conflicts to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.
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