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Busy conflict season winding down as Central Okanagan bears seek higher elevations for hibernation

The Central Okanagan has seen a surge in bear conflict reports this season.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
November 06, 2015 - 1:00 PM

CENTRAL OKANAGAN - An extremely busy bear season might be coming to an end, at least as far as local conservation officers measure it.

“I think this is the first day we haven’t had a call for service,” Sgt. Josh Lockwood said this morning. Nov. 6. “Of course, it’s early yet.”

The most recent numbers show Lockwood and conservation officers in the Central Okanagan have had to deal with a near doubling of black bear and grizzly bear conflicts compared to the same period to 2014.

Service calls in Kelowna and West Kelowna jumped from 136 black bear and two grizzly bear calls from April 1 to Sept. 9, 2014 to 261 black and four grizzly bear calls for the same period this year.

Conservation officers attended 44 bear calls this year, twice as many as last, with the increased conflict also leading to a surge in bear deaths. Officers were forced to destroy eight bears during that time with just two put down the year before.

Lockwood says people shouldn’t get complacent but the signs are showing the intense bear season coming to an end.

“I’m not saying there’s not bears out there, but the weather has cooled off, there’s snow coming into upper elevations,” Lockwood adds. “They are possibly returned to that elevation and getting into their dens before it gets too cold.”

But Lockwood said locals should continue to be bear aware and control attractants, such as garbage cans, because bears will ignore the call for hibernation if they can find a reliabile alternative.

“It upsets their natural rhythm. They won’t go back to where they usually spend the winter. We’ve had them in December with two and half feet of snow and it’s only becasue they were getting into a food source.”

In problem areas, unsecured household garbage cans remain the biggest bear attractant, Lockwood says, especially when left out on the street overnight. 

“You can’t leave multiple cans out all night,” he says. “They will go into yards looking for it.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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