Bears busy preparing for winter
As bears attempt to pack on the pre-hibernation pounds, Kamloops Bear Aware is stepping up its campaign to minimize bruin-human conflict.
Frank Ritcey, provincial Bear Aware co-ordinator, said the Kamloops program is planning a “bear blitz” for October that will include classroom visits and Facebook giveaways.
Residents who put their garbage on the street before collection day may also wake up one morning to find their bags stickered by program volunteers, “just as a way of reminding people about why they should be keeping their garbage in,” Ritcey said.
So far, five bears have been destroyed
in Kamloops this year — most recently, a mother and cub who were active in the McArthur Island area this summer.
While the sow and her three cubs were relocated from the park, conservation officer Darcy McPhee said the bears returned to the island within a few weeks of the move.
“She was right in McArthur Island Park during a very, very busy Sunday afternoon.
“There was several kids’ soccer games ongoing, people golfing, people riding bikes. Hundreds of people in the park,” McPhee said.
“It was really not a very good scene. She was on one side of the fence at the golf course and her cubs were on the other side and she was highly agitated.”
When the sow charged a conservation officer, she was killed.
While officers were able to successfully tranquilize two of the cubs, who had run up a tree, a third one didn’t respond to the dart.
After a few more tries that pushed the cub farther up the tree, McPhee said an officer became concerned he would injured the bear and decided to kill it instead.
“In his words, it was really becoming kind of cruel,” he said.
The remaining cubs were shipped to a rehabilitation facility in Williams Lake.
While it’s not the preferred outcome, McPhee said the bears’ fate isn’t surprising.
“Relocation is pretty much always a failure, we know that. But, with family units we try really hard to give them that second chance,” he said.
However, he and Ritcey said bear activity in the city is down this year.
Ritcey said there have been just over 300 calls about bears this year, compared to more than 400 at this time last year.
Conservation officers are seeing more activity from families of bears, McPhee said, which is unusual.
“And, of course, they’re problematic because you have multiple bears to deal with.”
In most cases, it’s fruit trees that are luring the bruins into town, something that will continue to be a concern until apple season ends, Ritcey said.
While strong berry crops likely kept most bears out of the city during the summer, equally strong fruit hauls in town could draw them back.
“That is just such a strong draw for bears,” said McPhee.
“They’re willing to tolerate people honking horns and throwing things at them and pets barking — it’s such a good food source for them at this time of year that they will tolerate a lot of things they normally would not.”
Ritcey said Bear Aware is planning a number of fruit-related campaigns on its Facebook page at
facebook.com/bearawarebc, including recipe suggestions and a contest in which people can submit pictures of themselves picking fruit for prizes.