August 27, 2013 - 5:32 PM
PENTICTON - It's pretty simple to prevent bruins from becoming 'bad news bears'.
Homeowners should keep their yards free from trash and fruit growers should leave no fruit on the ground and keep their fences electrified. People who follow these steps and obey the rules can go a long way in keeping bears from being nuisances and from being destroyed.
Since its inception B.C.'s bear education program has resulted in cutting the number of bears killed from 1,000 to 500, Wildsafe B.C. provincial co-ordinator Frank Ritcey said. His department gets 22,000 phone calls about bears every year.
More individuals have been educated on the importance of pruning and harvesting fruit trees, rinsing recycling to prevent odours, cleaning barbecues after use, keeping pet food indoors, turning compost regularly and storing garbage in a secure area. Bears can quickly become habituated to food sources and will break into sheds or homes to find the source of smells.
Ritcey said there will be a bear education blitz in September as residents get complacent over the summer. Okanagan residents should especially pay attention thanks to all of the tasty fallen fruit laying in their yards and fields.
If the education fails and residents break the law by leaving food out, either by accident or on purpose, an armed conservation officer might have to be called. Ritcey said officers have a decision matrix to guide them on what to do.
"If the bear is in field somewhere enjoying life... that is not going to get a bear destroyed," Ritcey said. The situation gets serious if the bear enters a populated area such as a busy city street and presents an imminent threat. Black bears and grizzlies have been known to break into homes. One bear managed to get into a second floor apartment in Kamloops.
Ritcey's office fields 22,000 phone calls for bears every year. With hibernation season approaching hungry bears are looking for easy food to turn into fat for long sleeps.
For more information on bear-proofing your check out Bear Aware B.C.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065, tweet @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict
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