Mar 12, 2013 / 5:00 am
Bears in the Okanagan have enjoyed a nice long slumber, and if the good weather continues from mid to late March they will soon awaken, according to Zoe Kirk, bear aware community coordinator.
Once they spring back to life, hunger will lure them out of their dens in search of water, a meal and sunshine, she said.
“Cubs have been born in the warmth of the den and due to the pressures of nursing cubs and lack of food, sows can lose up to 35 percent of their body weight,” she said. “So when they emerge in the spring, they are thirsty and hungry. Add maternal protection and it is easy to understand why we need to be extra cautious about managing our attractants, reducing the chances of luring them into neighbourhoods and yards,”
Using traditional routes, the spring will see the sows, cubs, adolescent bears and big boars, mature male bears, moving up and down the creek beds and pathways between available water, food sources and their dens.
Sows will often use backyards as temporary shelters, especially if they fear a big male bear may be in the area.
Boars are known to attack young cubs, so for the first few months sows are extra protective and can be a bit more defensive if they feel provoked.
In addition to keeping an eye out for the awakening animals, residents are asked to keep garbage locked up and secure until the morning of pick up.
This includes recycling. Recycling containers need to be washed well, otherwise they will attract bears, which have a strong sense of smell.
“With a nose that is five times better than the best tracking dogs, they can smell a potential meal a long way off,” said Kirk.
Birdfeeders should be taken down by Easter and stored until next Christmas season, bee hives should be secured by perimeter fencing and any pet or livestock feed needs to be well secured in a barn, shed or garage.
Last year there was a spike in bear activity in the South Okanagan, with Naramata being identified as a bear hot spot.
Since some of the efforts, including not putting garbage out until pick up day, were implemented, there have been fewer bears put down by conservation officers.
For more information, go to www.bearaware.bc.ca.
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