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Summerland to pursue bear safety education program

This bear was photographed by an infrared camera in Summerland. It is part of a larger bear education campaign to reduce contact between bruins and humans.
Image Credit: Source/WildlifeBC
July 12, 2013 - 4:52 PM

PENTICTON - Two slain bears are two too many for Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino.

A couple of bruins were put down by conservation officers for safety reasons this past year in the Summerland area. Violent contact between humans and wildlife is one reason why WildSafe B.C., the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and the community are starting an education campaign on bear safety.

"Killed two so far this year and that's two more than what we should have killed," the mayor said. "For me that's a problem. We don't want to be in the business of destroying our wildlife."

One of the bears frequented an orchard not far from Perrino's home. The animal came up on backyard decks sniffing around for food.

"He felt too at home around homes."

Perrino wants residents to keep their garbage indoors until the morning of pick-up day, safeguard their bird-feeders and scour their yards for loose food bits. Perrino said her community might also consider a bylaw that will prohibit leaving garbage out overnight.

She said having garbage bags at curbside at night, for pick-up the next day, is the same as saying "come on in for dinner."

The third tool will be the wildlife cameras.

Six cameras, able to take photos day or night, will be placed around the Summerland area to track bears and other large animals. The goal is to find out where the animals are coming into the community. The photographs will be put into a database where they can be analyzed. The pictures will be snapped over 32 weeks. 

"If we do our part, fewer bears will die," Perrino said.

That's Zoe Kirk's goal as well. The WildSafeBC community co-ordinator said B.C. has one-quarter of the black bears in Canada and conflict can be difficult to avoid. Bears and humans frequent the same areas. The bruins like to be around water and so do people.

Kirk said the province and its conservation officers take 25,000 calls about bears, deer and cougars sightings. The good news is bear safety education is working and bear sightings are down while deer and cougar sightings are up. The cougar sightings might have increased due to bird feeders in backyards. Deer are now standing on their hind legs to get at the seeds. The seeds spill to the ground. Rodents come out to eat the seeds and predators soon follow. The deer are also targets for cougars.

Kirk said it can be a real domino effect. It can be nipped in the bud by keeping food sources out of reach of wildlife.

To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at squesnel@infotelnews.ca, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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