Know who doesn't care about COVID-19? Hungry bears out of hibernation - InfoNews

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Know who doesn't care about COVID-19? Hungry bears out of hibernation

Excessive food purchasing and people staying at home creating waste could cause extra problems for bears coming out of hibernation, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen warn.
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March 23, 2020 - 7:30 PM

The days are getting warmer, coaxing bears out of hibernation in the Thompson and Okanagan regions.

With more people staying home and changes in food purchasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. Conservation Service and regional districts are reminding residents to be bear aware as bears wake up and begin seeking food.

The Conservation Officer Service reported in a social media post recently it has already received reports of bear activity, including bears spotted in neighbourhoods.

The service also notes with more people staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is more opportunity for garbage and other attractants to pile up, as well as more opportunities to manage them.

“Spring means the Conservation Officer Service is renewing warnings to secure garbage, pet food, birdseed and other attractants around your home,” the service says, calling it one of the best ways to prevent wildlife conflicts from happening in the first place.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Chair Karla Kozakevich says more food waste may be generated due to excessive groceries purchased through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Household waste and recycling will most certainly grow in proportion and contain a whole smorgasbord of refuse, including diapers and wipes, which bears are especially fond of,” Kozakevich said in a press release issued today, March 23.

With a sense of smell five times better than a dog, bears are well adapted to smell out possible food sources, Kozakevich says.

“Bears will have plenty of natural food sources to choose from when they leave the den. We all need to ensure bears and their cubs can’t capitalize on this potential un-natural food availability. If we don’t, they will become food conditioned and habituated. We know that usually doesn’t end well for the bears and puts our neighbourhoods at risk,” Kozakevich says.

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