Human-bear conflicts on the rise across the Okanagan this fall

Human-bear conflicts rising

Rob Gibson

Human-bear interactions and conflicts have been on the rise across the Okanagan this fall.

Lisa Robinson and her 15-year-old daughter got more than they bargained for in Osoyoos on Saturday when a bear showed up in their backyard and attacked their dog.

"I had a wine glass in my hand and I threw it at the bear and it broke, and the bear stood up and just kind of like, I wouldn't say mauled but just kind of thrashed at me with its claws on both sides of my face and arm. It knocked me down and my daughter started screaming," says Robinson.

The BC Conservation Officer Service responded, followed a trail of blood to where the bear was lying injured and euthanized the bear and its cubs.

Most human-bear interactions don't escalate to the level of an attack, bit it's a stark reminder of what can happen when humans and bears don't get along.

"We do see spikes when bear activity becomes more prevalent," said Hailey Gooliaff with the BC Conservation Officer Service.

The fall is when bears come out of the mountains, "looking for those high-calorie food sources, and just trying to find whatever they can."

"So we're really encouraging the public to make sure that any accessible food sources that aren't natural to bears are kept away from them," said Gooliaff.

Bears are getting ready to hibernate for the winter and are now foraging for anything and everything they can eat.

Some attribute the recent wildfires for increased bear and wildlife activity, but Gooliaff says that's not accurate.

"Wildlife is able to escape the fires for the most part, they're able to find their own food sources after, their own water after, and they're actually able to thrive after wildfires. Next year, there's going to be a lot of green up in the areas, which creates a lot more forage for wildlife," Gooliaff said.

Making sure you keep attractants like garbage and fruit from trees out of the reach of bears can help cut down on human-bear conflicts.

"We just want to make sure that we're leaving bears to do bear things and you're giving them space, we're not getting close to them," Gooliaff said.

If there is a conflict, call the RAPP line.

If you're out for a hike, you are advised to travel in a group, make noise when on trails and if you see a bear, remain calm, give it plenty of space and stay well away, ensuring it has a clear escape route. Dogs should also be kept on a leash.

For more tips on being bear aware click here.

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