Bears feast at orchard

Rob Gibson

Alan Gatzke of Gatzke Farms in Oyama loves wildlife – until it breaks into his orchard and eats his hard work.

"Wildlife is a nice thing unless you're trying to run a farm," he says.

Farm workers were recently harvesting in the orchard, but had to stop because of a torrential downpour.

"We left some of the bins out overnight because of the rain, and when we went to transport them the next morning, we found (bears) had eaten over a bin full of fruit."

Gatzke says there is a gap in one of his fences, and it looks like the bears made their way under it and went straight for the apples. 

"They were picky. They left the pears alone and seemed to really like the apples," says Gatzke. The bears ate a bin full of apples and destroyed the bin in the process. "It's about $500 worth of damage, and it set us back."

Gatzke says by the amount of the bear scat in the area, it looked like there were quite a few bears, and they spent the better part of the night chowing down on the apples and generally trashing the area.

"They actually ripped the bin apart ... these bears made a mess," he says.

Bears have been especially active in the Okanagan this September. One had to be euthanized in West Kelowna a week ago after it became to accustomed to humans and the Conservation Officer Service had to take action in the interest of public safety.

Conservation Officer Ken Owens said the bear, "by its behaviour and actions, was posing a serious public safety threat."

People can report conflicts with dangerous wildlife, where this is a threat to public safety, to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline toll-free at 1 877 952-RAPP (7277).

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