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WildSafeBC reporting high levels of bear activity from West Kelowna to Peachland

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Bear sightings are on the rise from West Kelowna to Peachland, according to a wildlife organization.

On Thursday, WildSafeBC says while it’s normal to see a spike in activity during spring as bears emerge from hibernating and start seeking food, what’s happening lately on the west side of Okanagan Lake is unusually high.

“The first nine days of June had over double the amount of reports than what is usually made in the entire month,” said WildSafeBC.

A graph showing bear sightings from 2015 to 2020 on the west side of Okanagan Lake. WIldSafeBC

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Specifically, WildSafeBC says the first nine days of June saw 82 reports. The monthly average for June for the past five years has been around 31 reports.

The reports are sent to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and WildSafeBC’s wildlife alert reporting program (WARP).

“It’s just not just the number of reports that are unusually high, but that the activity is spread throughout several neighbourhoods and there are believed to be several different bears present,” said WildSafeBC.

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The organization said, though, that sometimes a high number of reports can be tied to one or two active bears, and that there are “a small number of food-conditioned yearlings in West Kelowna, that are very active in the residential area, as they continue to have access to attractants.”

Still, WildSafeBC noted that while these yearlings are part of the recent spike, the overall amount is still unusual.

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A sign from the Regional District of the Central Okanagan warning residents of possible bears in the area. Global News

In part, the organization pointed to garbage as being an easy food source for the bruins.

“Human-bear conflicts will develop when bears have access to unnatural food sources, like garbage,” said WildLifeBC.

“Access to these foods result in a bear becoming food-conditioned and eventually habituated, whereby they associate people with food. Habituated bears tolerate humans in much closer proximity than what is safe for both bears and humans.”

 

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WildSafeBC said residents can report sightings of bears, cougars, coyotes or wolves in an urban area to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277. The reports are uploaded daily to WARP.

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WildSafeBC says its WARP program allows the public to see what wildlife has been reported in their neighbourhood and be alerted of new sightings.

For more information about B.C.’s bear smart community, click here.

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