B.C. conservation officers move from education to enforcement to keep bears alive | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. conservation officers move from education to enforcement to keep bears alive

B.C. conservation officers are actively patrolling for bear attractants in neighbourhoods.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / B.C. Conservation Officer Service
May 25, 2020 - 4:24 PM

As bear sightings rise in the province, B.C. conservation officers are conducting bear attractant patrols to help reduce conflicts, and they are ready to hand you a violation ticket.

Bear sightings are being reported throughout the province, including the Okanagan, where a sow and five cubs were spotted last week in Penticton.

Conservation officers are patrolling neighbourhoods to see if attractants are secured through the use of bear-proof bins, picking excess fruit from trees, use of electric fencing and other measures.

"As the COVID-19 outbreak means more people stay home, this creates opportunity for garbage and other attractants to pile up – but also more opportunities to manage them,” chief conservation officer Doug Forsdick said in a media release. “We hope people take this opportunity to assess their properties for potential attractants and ensure they are properly stored. Communities where attractants are managed properly experience fewer human-wildlife conflicts and fewer animals destroyed."

Conservation officers are targeting areas with a history of bear conflicts as well as communities where unsecured attractants such as garbage, pet food, birdseed and compost have led to problems in the past.

Conservation officer Toby Sprado, who is the inspector for the Okanagan region, said the service is moving to more of an enforcement approach after educating the public over the past few years.

"Whether it will be a warning issued or violation tickets will depend on the situation and the people involved. Last year, we did a lot of education and we are just finding there hasn’t been a paradigm shift in the way people manage their attractants,” he said in a telephone interview Monday, May 25.

Sprado said conservation officers issued eight tickets for leaving attractants in a Summerland neighbourhood last month.

He said the service works hand in hand with WildSafeBC staff, who primarily work to educate the public in bear awareness on behalf of the conservation officer service.

Sprado indicated the patrols could take place throughout the summer.

The first phase of patrols wrapped up in late fall, with more than 700 inspections resulting in 75 charges, 300 warnings and 350 dangerous wildlife protection orders, which direct a property owner to remove an attractant or face a $575 fine.

The conservation officer service said public safety is paramount, and stress the best way to keep people safe, and bears from being destroyed, is to secure attractants around your home, business or property.


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