Residents in the B.C. community of Peachland are accustomed to seeing bears, but the Okanagan town is experiencing a spike in bear reports this spring.
“Since the beginning of May, we have seen 29 bear reports made to the Conservation Officer Service,” said WildSafeBC community coordinator Meg Bjordal.
“And so to put that into perspective, in the same period last year there was only six reports that had been made.”
In one of those cases, a bear even managed to gain entry into a home.
“There was a bear that had managed to get into an unsecured door and access a freezer that was just beyond the door,” Bjordal said.
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Luckily, the residents were sleeping upstairs at the time. The bear was gone by the time they made their way downstairs.
Bjordal said it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for the increase in bear activity.
“It may be that there is a small number of bears that, instead of moving through the community, they started having access to attractants, such as garbage and now they’ve started forging in the community for food and they are becoming food conditioned,” she said.
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“And it might just be a small number of bears that are causing the increase in the number of reports.”
Candice Dias lives in the neighborhood near the busy Beach Avenue waterfront, a neighborhood that’s been hard hit with bear sightings.
Dias told Global News that bear sightings on her street have become a nightly occurrence.
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“Every evening, at least for the last two weeks,” she said.
Dias said the bears usually come between 8 and 10 p.m., and often climb a nearby walnut tree.
“We’ve just been keeping our doors shut and staying inside,” she said.
The increased bear activity has prompted WildSafeBC to go door-to-door to encourage people to be more bear aware.
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“I do ask residents to remember to keep their doors locked, because bears are very dexterous as well as to ensure there are no attractants in and around their properties.” Bjordal said.
That includes not leaving garbage bins outside overnight, picking fallen fruit, putting away pet food and bird seed, and keeping composts and barbecues clean.
For more information on being bear aware, click here.