Secure trash or get fined

Bears are out in Kelowna and Conservation Officers are asking residents in two communities to watch their trash.

Conservation Officer Ken Owens says they’ve been educating residents in two areas for years and people don’t seem to be getting the message.

“We’ll continue with our bear attractant audits, so be forewarned," said Owens.

Two hotspots for bears getting into garbage is Mackenzie and Muir Roads near the Toovey Heights area as well as Hall and Dunsmuir Roads near the Mission Creek Regional Park area.   

Owens said if you aren’t dealing with your garbage that is attracting bears you could face a $235 fine. 

Just this spring, there have been 18 human-black bear complaints within the City of Kelowna.

“Bears are driven by their biology and emboldened by their learned experiences,” he said. “The root cause of most human-bear conflicts is food, and when a bear starts associating people with food, the chance for conflict and risk to public safety rises. 

Owens said the bears in these neighbourhoods are category two, meaning they are getting into the garbage but don’t pose a safety risk.

“But, when the attraction isn’t dealt with these bears quickly go into category one bears and it is a threat to public safety,” he said. 

Though the cause of the problem is usually people, often it's the bear that must face the consequences. 

“Bears that become highly food-conditioned and habituated to humans are often destroyed because of concerns for human safety,” said Owens.

Fines have already been issued this year by COs and they are reminding the public it is an offense under the BC Wildlife Act to leave an attractant accessible to, dangerous wildlife (bears, coyotes, wolves, cougars).  

Garbage put out the night before garbage pick-up or garbage left out near a residence allowing a bear to access is an offence under the Wildlife Act and will be strictly enforced ensuring people and bears are protected.

Securing attractants is the single best way to keep people safe, prevent property damage, and avoid the unnecessary killing of bears that come into conflict with people.  

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