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Environment

A fall ritual: Bear awareness warnings

Officially, autumn starts this weekend, Saturday, September 22. Realistically, it’s already arrived.

Regardless, with summer’s hot days now a memory and cooler temperatures now the norm, with leaves beginning to turn colour, apples being harvested and salmon beginning to spawn, annual fall warnings about bear awareness are being spread.

The Regional District of the Central Okanagan said that across the region, bear activity in the Valley will likely increase as they leave higher elevations in search of food.

The RDCO says visitors to local parks should be on the lookout for bears.
The RDCO says visitors to local parks should be on the lookout for bears. Regional District of the Central Okanagan

READ MORE: Another bear sighting in southwest Calgary

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“As expected at this time of year, our parks staff and visitors usually see more signs of bears in some of our regional parks, including Mission Creek, the Greenway, Scenic Canyon, Bertram Creek, Johns Family Nature Conservancy, Kalamoir, Glen Canyon and Rose Valley,” said RDCO communications officer Bruce Smith. “As sightings increase, we post signs advising that the animals may be active in the area.”

WATCH: Wildlife BC share tips that will help you keep human/wildlife conflict to a minimum.

WildSafe BC: Wildlife and bear awareness refresher
WildSafe BC: Wildlife and bear awareness refresher

Conservation Officers say bears have already been spotted in several neighborhoods from South East Kelowna to West Kelowna.

Smith added “to reduce your chance of coming upon a bear, travel in a group if possible and make noise or carry something that makes noise. During the fall fish spawning season, local creeks and rivers can be teaming with spawning salmon. As a result, you may find bears taking advantage of this plentiful food source. Bears fishing for food may not hear you over the noise of the creek water. If you see a bear, give it plenty of space and stay well away from it.”

The RDCO added that bears, during this time of the season, can be aggressive, especially when defending food or their cubs. They also have excellent senses of smell and hearing, and that dog owners are reminded that their pets must be leashed and kept on trails at all times.

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READ MORE: Cause for concern? Multiple bear sightings in Vancouver caught on camera

GLOBAL NEWS BEAR COVERAGE:

The RDCO also said that area residents can help prevent bear confrontations by keeping their garbage securely stored and only wheeling their garbage cart out on the morning of their regular curbside collection.

“With fall around the corner, this is the time bears amp up foraging activity to increase fat stores for winter denning,” said RDCO waste reduction facilitator Rae Stewart. “The best advice if you live in an area susceptible to wildlife-reduce your risk of conflict and take responsibility for your trash.

“Bears in particular, but other animals as well. have a keen sense of smell, so the idea is not to attract them to your garbage unnecessarily. If they find your waste, not only can they make a real mess, but they can become food conditioned which leads to them posing a risk to you, your family, and your community,”

WATCH BELOW: Meg Bjordal from Wild Safe BC explains why leaving your garbage out is dangerous for us and the bears, especially around this time of year.

Fall Bear Warning
Fall Bear Warning

Wildsafe B.C. has tips you can follow to keep wildlife wild and help prevent conflict:

  • Only put garbage out for collection on the morning of pickup, not the night before.
  • Encourage neighbors to do the same, offer to help if they are not able to put garbage out at appropriate times.
  • Secure your garbage on non- collection days.
  • Consider freezing your kitchen scraps until the morning of collection day.
  • Keep your barbeque clean and covered.
  • Pick ripe or fallen fruit, mix well into your compost bin, or put in yard waste cart.
  • Use birdfeeders only in the winter.
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Please report human-bear conflicts to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.