Hundreds of bears killed due to conflicts with people, says province

KELOWNA 鈥?The growing conflict between people and wildlife is sparking an urgent plea from Okanagan conservationists.

A young bear had to be euthanized this weekend after spending the past few weeks eating household garbage in Kelowna neighbourhoods.

READ MORE:聽Bear in Kelowna falls 40 feet from tree after being tranquilized; later euthanized

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鈥淭heir sense of smell is 2,100 times better than ours. They鈥檙e trying to put on 20,000 calories a day so when they get into garbage and fruit trees and non-natural attractants, they get addicted to it,鈥?said conservation officer Ken Owens.

The province says every year hundreds, and in some cases more than a thousand, bears are destroyed as a result of conflicts with people.

Most of the time, the issue arises when there is easy access to non-natural food sources like garbage.

鈥淚t鈥檚 mainly garbage, bird seed, fruit trees, we really want people to ensure bears don鈥檛 have access to them,鈥?said Owens.

He says one way to do that is to become a 鈥楤ear Smart鈥?community, a status currently attained by only seven B.C. communities.

鈥淭hey embrace the root causes of bear and human conflict and they look for those long-term solutions so we are really hoping that more of our communities will come on board with the bear smart community program,鈥?said Owens.

It鈥檚 not just about ensuring bears don鈥檛 find food where they shouldn鈥檛. Conservationists are also urging people not to intentionally feed or get close to any wildlife.

READ MORE: Don鈥檛 feed wildlife, plead Okanagan conservationists

鈥淲e have motor vehicle accidents with deer, we have more encounters where people get hurt, dogs get hurt, so it鈥檚 just not good practice to feed any wildlife at any time, let鈥檚 just keep them wild and let鈥檚 just co-exist with them,鈥?said Owens.

The only Okanagan community with 鈥楤ear Smart鈥?status is Naramata.

Click here to view the Wild Smart website and more tips on how to prevent bears from entering your neighbourhood or yard.

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