Penticton winery appealing attractants fine that led to bear’s demise
A two-year-old habituated black bear was killed by conservation officers in a residential backyard at the Riva Ridge Mobile Home Park on Aug. 22.
The BC Conservation Officer Service believes the bear was drawn to the area by the smell of grapes, garbage and grease at the nearby Play Estate Winery in Skaha Hills.
The company was fined $800 for attracting dangerous wildlife and failing to comply with a dangerous wildlife protection order.
David Pechet, the winery’s managing partner, said the company is appealing the fine.
“They came back the day after unfortunately [sic] the bear was put down and fined us for not yet complying with some of their suggestions. We were in the middle of researching those suggestions.”
Pechet said staff contacted the conservation service several times since June to ask for help dealing with a problem bear.
He said a conservation officer didn’t perform an onsite visit until early August and issued the company an order to secure attractants.
Three weeks later, the winery was fined for failing to comply.
Pechet said the winery wasn’t given enough time to make changes.
“I feel that the time frame was inappropriate,” he said.
BC Conservation Officer David Cox said the winery didn’t communicate that it was researching options.
“There was no communication back and forth and failing to comply with the order is what resulted in the fines,” Cox said.
Pechet said he was also appalled that the bear was put down.
“No one wants to see a bear put down, we would much rather these bears be re-located and I think it was very traumatic for everyone involved,” he said.
Cox responded that re-location is not a tool that’s proven successful and the focus needs to be on preventing human-wildlife conflict.
“This bear will find another community or it will travel all the way back to the same community which we’ve seen time and time again.”
The winery has since moved the grease barrels and is looking at installing a permanent structure.
“We’re trying to build a fenced in area so we can keep the garbage and the barrels enclosed,” Pechet said.
He added that businesses, the BC Conservation Officer Service and the public is responsible for preventing human-wildlife conflict.