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Wildfires have displaced hungry bears in affected areas

Efforts urged to avoid bear encounters in the Okanagan
Residents are urged to manage garbage and other attractants to prevent bear encounters. (Black Press File Photo)

Wildfires in the Okanagan have displaced bears from their homes, with some making their way into neighbourhoods.

Brandon Beck, a field officer with the provincial conservation service said bears are in search of food and are showing up in places where supplies are available.

“Any attractants available are going to need to be managed,” he said.

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In areas where electrical power was out because of the fires, food in the freezers may have thawed out and may now be spoiling. The odours from this food may attract bears and other wildlife.

Spoiled and rotting food is causing problems in the Shuswap as wild animals are being attracted to the area because of the smells.

Elsewhere, ripening fruit and garbage are both bear attractants. 

Beck said ripe fruit should be picked from fruit trees and garbage should be managed properly.

He said garbage should be stored in a secure building or shed until it is set out for collection.

While some people will put their garbage at the curb the afternoon or evening before it is collected, Beck said this practice can attract bears to residential areas. He said bears typically look for food at night.

In areas where conservation officers have had to deal with problem bears, warnings and fines may be imposed on those who do not manage attractants such as fruit or garbage. Fines are typically $575.

Beck urges people to manage garbage and other attractants before they have a problem with bears on their properties, rather than after they have had bear encounters.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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