Warm winter wakes bears from hibernation early in Kamloops, Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Warm winter wakes bears from hibernation early in Kamloops, Okanagan

These bear tracks were spotted in Salmon Arm in the middle of February.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Morley Hansen

Low snowpack and warm winter temperatures mean there are more bears wandering around looking for snacks instead of sleeping in their dens.

"I saw prints on my walk the other day," said North Shuswap resident Mindy Bryan. "It was definitely new prints, I walk up the road often and they weren't there the few days before."

Kathy Murray with Wildsafe BC said the issue is happening across the province this year, including in Kamloops and the Okanagan.

“It’s triggering bears to come out of hibernation sooner, they could be coming out anytime with this warm weather pattern,” she said.

Typically bears in BC go into hibernation in November when there are no longer food sources, the days get shorter and the temperatures drop. They emerge in April. Murray said in some areas like Vancouver Island, bears have access to food year-round so they don’t hibernate.

Early spring is the best opportunity for the public to prevent human/bear conflict.

“Coming out they’ll be feeding on emerging greenery, then look for other food sources,” Murray said. “If the winter temperatures drop down again and a bear has found food sources it won’t go back to its den.”

READ MORE: DITCH DUMPING: Okanagan, Kamloops residents shocked by amount of garbage on roadsides

Residents can be proactive by ensuring their properties are not inviting to bears by keeping garbage secured and bringing in bird feeders.

“Feeders are an excellent source of protein for bears and once a bear gets into one, it’s not likely to return to the wilderness to feed on natural food. We’ve all chosen to live in wildlife habitats, it’s our responsibility not to bait bears.”

READ MORE: Central Okanagan residents want curbside food waste collection

Bears spotted wondering in parks and neighbourhoods can be reported to the BC Conservation service so they can remove any attractants from the area.

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