Bear sightings up in Kamloops, actual conflict down

By Jill Sperling
September 21, 2017 - 10:59am Updated: September 21, 2017 - 6:04pm

KAMLOOPS — Bear-human conflicts have increased across the province in 2017. 

In Kamloops, there have been a high number of bear sightings, but fewer conflicts than average.

266 black bear sightings have been called in to the RAPP line in Kamloops so far this year, but only six bears have been put down due to dangerous behaviour. 

"All-in-all it's been a better year for the number of conflicts that we've had right here in the city of Kamloops," said Conservation Officer, Sgt. Kevin Van Damme. "We've had fewer bears that are engaging the public in and around the city of Kamloops, so it's been a good year for us and the bears."

Van Damme says because the bears have been exhibiting less aggressive behaviour, fewer have been put down. 

"We're down about less than half than what we normally have to put down by this time of year," Van Damme said. "We've only had to kill about six bears in Kamloops, and those bears are all young bears, bears that have just left their mothers probably in the last year or two, so they're young teenage bears, and they're out probably taught by their mother how to access garbage."

With temperatures dropping, bears are beginning to pack on the pounds for winter hibernation. 

"This is the week that we tend to peak in terms of bear calls overall in the province," said Frank Ritcey, provincial coordinator with WildSafeBC. "It's that third to fourth week of September when the most activity occurs." 

So far the season has been relatively quiet, but Ritcey says property owners need to be aware of bear attractants. 

"In the fall, it's really important to manage your fruit," Ritcey said. "Fruit becomes one of the larger attractants at this time of year, so it's really important to pick your fruit early, make sure that there are no windfalls, and if you can't use the fruit yourself, suggest to your neighbours."

Garbage is also responsible for drawing bears into the city, and a reason why many come into conflict with humans. 

"We have eight bears active in the city," Van Damme said, "two of those are family units in Juniper. They haven't been aggressive with the garbage, so we haven't targeted them for capture, but certainly those cubs are learning how to feed on garbage, and if they leave their mother next year and enter the community, guaranteed they'll be in conflict with the public, and they're aggressiveness will be such that we'll have to take action on those animals."

While conservation officers would rather not put the animals down, removing those that are creating conflict helps to keep the numbers low.

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