Bears are trickling into our valley looking for food to prepare for hibernation.
“Because of the Kokanee salmon starting to spawn and the ripening of fruit across the valley, we start to see more bear activity,” said Bruce Smith, Regional District of the Central Okanagan communications officer.
Over the last five years there have been 245 reports of bear sightings a year, but this year there have been 212 in communities on the west side of Okanagan Lake alone.
“This spring we had an unusually high amount of bear conflict especially in the West Kelowna area so it’ll be interesting to see what happens this fall, because usually fall is our high conflict time of year,” said Meg Bjordal, WildSafeBC community coordinator.
When It comes to avoiding human-bear conflict the responsibility falls on humans. Officials say to put away bird feeders, be diligent with garbage and clean up any fallen fruit from trees.
“We need the public to get on board with this,” said Tanner Blake, conservation officer. “We aren’t going to change bears’ behaviour; they will always look for food. They are always going to go after high-calorie food, unnatural food sources if it’s available.
“We can change our own behaviour. So people need to take responsibility for their own attractants … so that we don’t have to euthanize bears unnecessarily.”
People also need to stay alert on hikes, go out in groups, make noise, and if you see a bear, stop, stay calm and back away, going the way that you came into the trail.
“There have been sightings from both visitors and our staff both of bear scat and bears themselves in the Scenic Canyon Regional Park section of the Mission Creek Greenway and we suspect that will likely increase as we see the salmon spawning in Mission Creek,” said Smith.