West Kelowna business fined for failing to secure bear attractants | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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West Kelowna business fined for failing to secure bear attractants

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October 17, 2019 - 8:35 AM

A West Kelowna business that failed to keep its garbage locked up has been fined after contributing to the habituation of six bears that had to be destroyed.

"These bears were a significant public safety concern. We have a witness who was charged twice, we have a bear who was up on a balcony going through recycling and a bear pushing on a window," Sgt. Jeff Hanratty of the Conservation Office Service said. "For public safety, they had to be destroyed."

The business, which Hanratty wouldn't identify, has been charged under the Wildlife Act, section 33.1 (2) for not managing attractants. Two separate wildlife protection orders have also been issued.

The aim is to deter people from continuing on with being negligent in how they secure their garbage.

"It’s important that we stop this. This was a preventable instance and we want to let people know it’s preventable," he said. "It’s not a pleasant part of what we have to do and have to stop it and change the way we are managing attractants. Bears have a nose better than a bloodhound and are slaves to their biology. Their biological directive to put on fat so they can hibernate and we bait them into the community, train them to overcome their fear and then we destroy them. That’s not on."

The Ministry is taking a hard line, he said, and are in the midst of a bear attractant audit. When someone is found exhibiting bear luring behaviours, they are charged and issued wildlife protection orders. The effort will stop in November, when bears go down for the winter, and start again in the spring.

"This is a problem that is human-caused and avoidable. The best way to keep people safe and bears from being destroyed is to secure attractants around your home or business."

The number of bears that needed to be destroyed this year in B.C. jumped by more than 50 per cent from last year, and while the number of bears euthanized in the Interior stayed roughly the same, one dead bear is one too many.

"The number of bears we are destroying is unacceptable,"   Hanratty told iNFOnews.ca, earlier this month.

Between Apr. 1 and Sept. 30, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service euthanized 411 black bears around the province, a 54 per cent increase over the same period in 2018 when they were forced to kill 267 bears.

While numbers across the Interior remained much the same as last year with eight bears euthanized in Kamloops and Kelowna, three in Vernon and one in Penticton, Hanratty says the numbers are still far too high.

Conservation Officers across the province are conducting bear attractant audits in residential, recreational and commercial areas, and violators will be charged. The COS cannot stress enough to please do your part to keep wildlife wild.

The public is asked to report dangerous wildlife to the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

— This story was updated at 11:36 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, to include comment from Sgt. Jeff Hanratty. 

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