September 22, 2015 - 3:00 PM
PENTICTON - Household garbage led to the ultimate demise of a bear sow and its two cubs after the trio became habituated to the easy food source.
The female bear and her two cubs were reported on Friday morning in a small wooded area just west of Cherry Lane Mall, east of Parkway Elementary School and near a condominium complex on Atkinson Street, Penticton Conservation Officer Jim Beck says. RCMP and conservation officers found the bears were bedded within 10 feet of a well used walking corridor through the woods and had even packed a garbage bag to feast on. The mother had also been eating walnuts from a neighbouring tree.
“We consulted with RCMP also called to the scene and assessed the bears to be a high risk to be left in the area, near a walking trail, a mall and a school,” Beck says. “We couldn’t leave them be, with little natural area nearby — the risks were too great.”
He says the bears had become habituated to feeding on garbage, so none of them were suitable for relocation. Beck says the bears had to be put down.
“It wasn’t the bears’ fault, it’s our fault when we don’t clean up attractants sufficiently,” Beck says, noting 70 per cent of bear complaints involve bears in garbage. “The rest of the problem is bears in discarded or leftover fruit.”
Beck says the conservation office is charged with a dual mandate -—to protect the environment and wildlife, and to ensure public safety.
“When that safety element plays into the equation, wildlife generally loses,” he says.
He urges homeowners to store attractants responsibly by keeping garbage cans rinsed and cleaning up discarded fruit.
He notes regional districts and municipalities are making progress in creating and legislating bear safe communities.
“Naramata has bear smart status now, and we hardly ever get a complaint there. It’s not perfect, but it’s some progress,” he says.
Beck says he feels a large part of the community would favour bylaws that more strictly enforce how garbage is left in the street.
“If you can smell it, bears can smell it,” he says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015