Sep 28, 2012 / 3:56 pm
Bear tracker - Sept. 28, 2012
If you’ve woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of something rummaging through your garbage bins this week, you’re not alone.
A growing number of Central Okanagan residents have reported several bear sightings this week, mostly black bears on the prowl for food as they prepare to bulk up for a winter’s denning.
"I got home from a movie Tuesday night around 9:15 p.m. up Rosealee Lane in Rose valley," says West Kelowna resident Ashley Stapleton, "only to be greeted by a bear blocking my street. He went snooping in a neighbours yard and ended up following me to my house."
Since Monday, reports of bear encounters have come from Kelowna’s Mission and Mission Creek Park, West Kelowna, Peachland, and Summerland. The majority of the sightings have occurred in West Kelowna, garbage being the main attractant in those cases.
“Over the past couple of week, the calls have picked up quite a bit,” says Frank Ritcey, provincial Bear Aware coordinator.
He says good berry crops and human-created bear attractants in the Okanagan have the bears coming down from the mountains in the hopes of filling their daily caloric quota of 20,000 calories.
"He steals carrots from the garden, the occasional turnip, and lots of apples off of our two trees," says Glenrose resident Noah Normandale of a "large bear" he says visits every night.
So far this year in Kelowna, there have been 131 reported sightings of bears, slightly less than the 2011 total of 144.
Ritcey says the best thing residents can do to thwart bear encounters in their neighbourhoods is avoid putting garbage out until the day of collection, something which is enforced through bylaw already in Naramata. Managing fruit trees and eliminating bird feeders are the next best things one can do to keep bears away.
“A lot of people love to feed the birds, but if they can hold off until December, they (bears) won’t be coming around.”
Bears can obtain approximately 8,000 calories from 1 kilogram of birdseed.
Zoe Kirk, Bear Aware co-ordinator for Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, says residents should secure their garbage in their garage or even freeze it, if it gets too smelly, and avoid putting it out on the street until the morning of pick up.
“If people could do that one simple measure, it would make a complete difference.”
Eliminating bear attractants not only protects humans from bear encounters, it protects bears as well. Conservation officers may have to destroy a bear that frequents a certain area or will not leave. Conservation officers also have the option of trapping and relocating bears; however, this can also have negative consequences for bears, who are not guaranteed survival when they are placed in unfamiliar habitat.
“We’ve been enjoying a fairly light season,” Kirk says of bear encounters in the southern Okanagan.
Residents who encounter a problem bear are urged to call 1-877-952-7277. Additionally, Bear Aware has created a mapping initiative to track wildlife sightings and encounters in British Columbia.
Bear sightings and encounters received by email to Castanet:
1 & 2) Ken Starnes - We have been having a lot of activity up here in West Kelowna on the various streets in West Kelowna Estates. The cage traps illustrate the effort to capture the poor guys. These pictures were just off West Kelowna Road near Guest Road up from Rose Valley Elementary School. I live at 1020 Guest and that’s my RV backing onto my property.
3) Wayne Murton - "We were blaming raccoons for our walnut tree rip and tear until, lo and behold, we heard a scratching up a tree right off our deck, and there they were! I'd been wandering all over, passing underneath gathering fallen walnuts—now I wonder where mama was!"
4) Kathy – “I live on Rosalee Lane in West Kelowna and was watching a bear go through the neighbours’ garbages last night around 4 a.m.”
4) Ashley Stapleton – “I got home from a movie Tuesday night around 91:15 up Rosealee Lane in Rose valley only to be greeted by a bear blocking my street, he went snooping in a neighbors yard and ended up following me to my house. I parked my car in the driveway but couldn't get out as he was down the side drive way. i ended up making it inside safe and the bear ended up going on his way. Careful everyone! Don't leave garbage out or small kids or pets unattended. It was too dark to get any pictures.”
5) Steve Wraith – A bear’s family tree
6) Terry Myroniuk – Bear killing didn’t have to happen
7) Noah Normandale - "I live just off Webber Road, in the Glenrosa portion of West Kelowna. Our house is on the back of the canyon, and we have had a large bear visiting us most every night. He "steals" carrots from the garden, the occasional turnip, and lots of apples off of our two trees.
My neighbor has a motion-activated night camera, which is meant for viewing wildlife. He has pictures of him trampling down our chainlink fence on his way into the yard to "steal" more apples. Quite a large and impressive male.
Bears are not new in this area, but I am still blown away at how many people leave their garbage and recycling out on the streets the night before garbage pick up. These same people would complain if a bear were to destroy their garbage bags and bins and strew debris, and quite possibly call upon the conservation officers to purge that "threat". These people contribute to problem bears "moving into human territory." A great news story could be taken upon educating the residents on common sense when it comes to living and sharing habitats with bears and other wild animals."
8) Bruce Johnson – “Up a tree at Tower Ranch Golf & Country Club.”
9) Mission Creek Regional Park (RDCO) Sutherland Hills closed due to two aggressive bear encounters Sept. 18.
10) Amanda Tapp - "We haven't seen the bears, but the evidence is all over the neighbour's yard! We live on Pasadena Road, which backs onto the Greenway, and they are coming up the hill into the yard to get to the gardens and berry bushes. We are very lucky that we haven't run into them yet since we have small animals and kids."
11) Dave Burdett - "A few weeks ago while walking down the Mission Creek Greenway in scenic Canyon Park (due south of Belgo Road but on opposite side of the creek, where the creek forms a U), about 40 metres above me, I spotted a female black bear with two cubs. I immediately rang my bear bell even louder to make sure she knew I was there; although, I could already see her watching me. One of the cubs ran up a nearby tree, while the other stood beside mama bear and watched me. I snapped a few photos as I calmly walked along the pathway. She didn't seem too worried or bothered until, suddenly, the cub standing beside her started running down the hill towards me. Before he got three steps, she took off down the hill past the cub, barrelling straight towards me. I drew my bear spray, which I always wear on my hip when I'm out walking/hiking in bear country, pulled the safety, and aimed. My heart was pounding and I could feel my finger tensing against the trigger. About a second before I was going to pull the trigger, she suddenly came to a stop about 15 - 20 metres away from me, stomped her front paws, grunted, and just stared at me. Wow! Thank God it was just a false charge. Her two cubs then ran down the hill and stood beside her. I slowly started to walk away, bear spray in one hand, camera in the other, snapping a couple of pics as I left. She watched my every move until I was out of sight. I don't think she meant me any harm and was only showing me she would protect her cubs; although, I really hope she gave that little rotter who ran down the hill heck for what he did! I have probably had over a hundred bear encounters in my life, but this was the first time I was charged (hopefully the last). I was extremely glad I didn't have to use my bear spray, as the last thing I wanted to do is spray a mother with cubs; although, getting mauled wasn't a very appealing option either! We can admire the beauty of the bears, but we must always remember they are wild animals and respect their power and instincts to protect their young...and remember when you go into the woods you're going into their home. Bears are one of my favourite animals, and I love viewing them in their natural habitat. This encounter will in no way hinder me from spending time in bear country, but it is a reminder of how important it is to be prepared. When I head out into bear country, I carry a bear bell, an air horn, and bear spray. Bears in general want nothing to do with us and will usually run away or just go about their bear business. The time when you can run into problems is if there are cubs present, or if the bear is startled. Be Safe. Happy Hiking!"
12) Colleen Szalka - "Big Momma Bear and two baby cubs on Paradise Valley Drive off of Trepanier in Peachland. She is really big, and babies are very young, and it is garbage day tomorrow. She was walking around right when a school bus was going by."
13) Jessi W. - "We had a bear in our yard on Sept. 24. We're in Peachland up on Princeton Avenue on Columbia. It wandered off on it's own, not sure where it might have ended up."
14) Rae Stewart (RDCO) - Bears force closure of Hardy Falls Regional Park.
15) Rhodora Agsalud - Just want toshare my experienced seeing a bear. I am not originally from Canada and just moved here in Kelowna about four years ago and seeing a bear for the first time was really scary. One night last week around 10:30 p.m., I was heading down from Kettle Valley specifically after sunshine market. I was surprised and scared when I saw one medium black bear crossing the road, so I slowed down and stoped. That was really scary.
16) Glen Wardley - "I saw this momma bear and two cubs Sunday morning on banks of Trout creek, Summerland, just up stream from the trestle. They crossed the creek about 30 yards up stream from where I was and my dog was having a swim. I grabbed the dog and waited for them to climb the opposite bank and then reached for camera. My dog was really good and didn't make a sound until the momma bear spotted us and was staring straight at us. When the dog growled a little, I decided it was time to move on. She and the cubs just wandered on up stream into the trees. Does remind you that it's their backyard as well and that we just need to respect them and be aware."
17) Lisa Olsen – “Sitting out on a limb,” at Westside Road in Vernon Sept. 24.
Shari McKeown - "Further to your Sept. 23 story about bear sightings in Upper Mission, this one climbed our back fence, wandered into my backyard today (on Knowles Road, Lower Mission) and had a nap under the playground swing! It looked well fed and wasn't scared of us at all. There is an elementary school close by and lots of kids in the neighborhood, so it's a good idea to ask residents in the area to please keep garbage cans inside."
Rena M. - "Would like to know if you can put on your front page letting people know to be aware of a bear walking in the area as early as 8:30 at night...reminder to put garbage in the garage. We had cops looking for him but so many people do not know. We live in the Upper Mission (Southcrest and Southrige area), right beside Fraser Lake in a large forest where people are walking at all times of the day and into the night where the bear has been seen. There are no signs around the forest, though police and conservation officers are aware. Just worried about the well being of residents and passersby."
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