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It’s bear season: how to keep yourself (and your dogs) safe

While bear sightings are the same as this time last year, expect to see more as they prep for hibernation.
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August 27, 2015 - 10:30 AM

THOMPSON–OKANAGAN – If you haven't seen a bear in town, you just might soon.

Provincial WildSafe B.C. Coordinator Frank Ritcey says the number of bear sightings was down considerably at the start of the season but have steadily climbed. Bears are becoming more visible because of the change in weather and their pre-hibernation activities.

“When it’s really hot and dry, the bears become very nocturnal. It’s way too hot to be around in that black coat,” he says. He expects more bear sightings because the weather has cooled.

The bears are also going through a process called hyperphagia when they eat excessively to fatten up before hibernation. They need almost 20,000 calories a day and will move closer to city centres to get it. They are after apples, pet food, garbage, bird seed or anything they can get their paws on.

“September is our busiest month for bear sightings,” Ritcey says.

Ritcey advises home owners to keep their garbage bins securely fastened and pick their fruit trees, not allowing anything to fall to the ground. He also advises to only hang birdfeeders during the winter months.

If you ever encounter a bear, Ritcey says it’s important to talk to it. The bear will recognize you as human and the encounter should be over.

“Speak in a low, calm voice and slowly back away. They don't want to have anything do with us.”

He reminds dog owners to always keep their pets on leash when hiking or walking. Bears do not usually attack humans but might if confronted by a yappy or out of control dog.

Bruce Smith of the Regional District of Central Okanagan echoes Ritcey adding that bears are being spotted near lakes and streams eating fish.

“To reduce your chance of an encounter, travel in a group if possible, make noise or carry something that makes noise," he says. "Make your presence known. During the fall fish spawning season in local creeks and rivers visitors may encounter bears bulking up on this food source. Bears fishing for food may not hear you over the noise of the creek water. If you see a bear, give it plenty of space and stay well away from it.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dana Reynolds at or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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