Bear conflict looming

Chelsea Powrie

Unless you want a bear in your Okanagan backyard, it's time to start being smart about proofing your property against hungry beasts. 

Every year as summer wanes, bears in the area kick into high-gear foraging mode, looking to bulk up ahead of the hibernation season. 

"It's very easy for a bear to be led or lured into a yard or neighbourhood," said Zoe Kirk, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen WildSafe BC coordinator. 

"They have a nose five times better than a bloodhound, and that means a bear can smell a peanut butter sandwich or a salmon in the creek over a kilometre and a half away."

There have already been multiple sightings of bears near urban areas this season, including a mother and cubs in Naramata earlier this week. Kirk said the bears are looking to fatten up, seeking more than 20,000 calories per day. 

"Mother Nature pushes them, she drives them, with a phase called hyperphagia, which basically in Latin means gluttony," Kirk said.

"So a bear can forage for up to 20 hours a day at this time, trying to not only gain back the weight it lost denning during the previous year, but putting on that extra 30 per cent of body weight that will carry it through the denning period this year."

Keeping garbage inside until the morning of pickup, cleaning ripe fruit off of trees and adding water to compost  are all actions that will help.

For more tips on how to keep your property bear-smart, visit the WildSafe BC website

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