The Central Okanagan is seeing exceptionally high level of bear activity. All residents have a critical role in preventing conflict situations and helping to keep both the bears and people safe.

Conflict situations arise when bears have access to unnatural foods including garbage, fruit trees, and birdseed. Please use WildSafeBC’s Top 10 Tips to do your part to keep the community safe and the bears in the wild.

At this time of year, bears are in a phase called hyperphagia, which means intense eating. They need to increase their body weight by approximately 30 per cent so that they will have enough energy stores to survive winter denning. In order to find enough food as it gets closer to winter, bears tend to move to lower elevations where there is still greenery.

With communities situated at these lower elevations, bear sightings and conflicts in residential areas tend to peak annually in September. However, likely due to the draught conditions reducing natural food availability, and nearby fires displacing bears from their normal habitat areas this year, fall bear activity started earlier than usual, and is currently at an exceptionally high level.

WildSafe BC’s Top 10 Tips

1.   Keep your garbage secure – store it indoors, in a secure shed, or in a bear-resistant enclosure.

2.   Only put your garbage/yard waste/recyclables out on collection day — never the night before.

3.   Manage your fruit trees so that fruit is picked as it ripens, and no windfall accumulates. 

4.   Bring bird feeders in from April through November — and when they are out, ensure that the ground underneath is kept free of seeds.

5.   Feed pets indoors.

6.   Maintain your compost so that it doesn’t smell. Add fruit slowly. Never add meat or dairy.

7.   Protect fruit trees, beehives and small livestock with properly installed & maintained electric fence.

8.   Respect wild animals by not feeding them. Food-conditioned wildlife are more likely to come into conflict.

9.   Keep barbecues clean and odour free.

10. Report any wildlife in conflict or bear, cougar, coyote or wolf sightings in the community to the Conservation Officer Service 24/7 at 1.877.952.7277.

[top photo] Bear in area sign in Peachland urges residents to keep garage secured until the morning of collection. Photo by Yvonne Turgeon