Bear awareness urged after early season bear activity in the Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bear awareness urged after early season bear activity in the Okanagan

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May 25, 2016 - 9:00 PM

PENTICTON - Bear season is in full swing in the Okanagan, with several communities already dealing with bear issues.

Penticton Conservation Officer Jim Beck is asking the public to take precautions to ensure garbage and other attractants are contained in bear proof containers as the conservation office deals with some early season bear activity.

“We’re into the bear season, and we currently have active bears in Naramata, West Kelowna, Peachland and one on Giant’s Head in Summerland. They are out and about, and if they start getting any instant food rewards from improperly stored garbage or bird feeders, bags of bird feed, etc., chances are they’re going to come back for more and stick around,” he cautions.

He says residents failing to take precautions must take some of the responsibility if the bear becomes a nuisance and has to be put down.

“Once it becomes an issue of public safety, the bear generally loses, unfortunately,” Beck says.

The conservation office in Penticton has been dealing with a bear in Naramata since May 21, with reports accumulating daily.

“What it’s doing is the concerning part. It’s running up on people’s decks and rubbing up against windows,” Beck says, adding reports are the bear appears small and sickly. “Chances are we’ve got a sick bear that has other issues.”

Beck says the conservation office will probably have to 'deal' with the bear, but adds for the most part Naramata has been a 'bear aware' community.

“There are still people who aren’t aware of the issue, some new to the community, like one resident who called us about a bear issue. He had a bag of bird seed on his deck, so you know what happened there,” he says.

Beck says another bear in West Kelowna is described the same way, but there are so many green belts and natural areas in the city it’s difficult to track a bear.

“Both of those bears appear to be yearlings that are sick,” he says, adding the sickness can be natural, but can also be caused by the human food they’ve been eating.

Beck says bears often ingest plastic and other packaging materials when rummaging human food stocks that result in blockages causing sickness and in some cases, death.

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