Black bear in tree near downtown Kelowna to get a second chance

Bear to get a second chance

Rob Gibson

It's not something you see every day, especially downtown Kelowna.

A black bear that has been spotted in the area around Water Street ended up in a tree at 1831 Water Street on Friday morning.

Ken Scott says he spotted the bear at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning .

"He walked back through here and ended up in that tree I guess. So what do you do?"

Scott called the BC Conservation Officer Service who responded Friday afternoon.

Because the bear wasn't showing any signs of moving on, it had to be tranquillized. Unfortunately, it became stuck in the tree and the Kelowna Fire Department had to be called in to help get the bear down.

The firefighters managed to get the bear out of the tree and then transported it to the conservation pickup.

BC Conservation officer Ken Owens took the opportunity to talk to a group of spectators who had gathered around to watch and used the incident as a teaching moment.

"Unfortunately, Kelowna is not a bear smart community. So when we get a bear that will come right down into the city where it's highly populated, there's not as much of a natural forest. It's kind of an area where no good things happen."

"This particular bear has been accessing unprotected garbage compost, bird seed, all those non-natural attractants and they get habituated, they lose a fear people, and then they get food conditioned. So those are all things that we want to prevent," Owens says.

This particular bear is one of the lucky ones. Owens says they are going to give it another chance. They tagged it and will take it back into the woods as far away as they can get.

Despite that, Owens says there is a very good chance this bear comes back.

"We don't want bears to become habituated and food conditioned and then potentially jeopardize public safety and or do property damage, because they still are wild animals. So here it's a little bit of a wake-up call for this neighbourhood."

"The toughest job that we have to do is put down an animal but sometimes it has to be done," Owens says.

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