RDOS reminding residents to be aware of bears

News Article

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) is reminding residents, property owners, and visitors to be aware of bears in the region. If there is a potential wildlife conflict in your community, please contact the BC Conservation Officer Reporting (RAPP) Line at 1-877-952-7277. This will allow Conservation Officers to assess the risk levels and work towards a safe solution for the community and the wildlife involved. 

As long as a bear is moving through a community, is not lingering, and is not interacting with people or properties there is no conflict. There are many situations where a bear moving through a community is to be expected, such as when they are trying to access a natural food source like a fish-bearing stream, or foraging opportunities on the other side of what was once their normal home range.

When bears quit moving through a community and start using it as a foraging area for human-provided foods, conflicts may develop. A habituated bear tolerates humans in much closer proximity and increases the potential for a dangerous interaction between the bears and humans. 

Bear facts for outdoor recreation
Managing attractants in and around your property may reduce the risk of unwanted critters creating a nuisance or becoming a danger. When preparing your property for the winter, consider implementing attractant management systems before the season starts. Knowing a few key bear facts will make modifying procedures at your property easier, and following a few simple actions can avoid putting you and your neighbours at risk. 

Take care when walking or hiking with children and pets on wilderness trails. Dogs are great alert systems, but if not on a leash can create a hazard. Bears will chase dogs, who will usually run back to their owners. Carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it can go a long way to staying safe in bear country. 

For a video on how to use bear spray visit: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/spray-simple-acronym-bear-spray-1.4784095 

Bears can smell five times better than a bloodhound. They can smell a peanut butter sandwich more than one kilometre away.

  • Store garbage in a secure building until collection day or consider purchasing a bear-resistant household cart, ensure bins are tightly closed.
  • If you cannot store garbage securely, freeze pungent items and put them in the garbage right before collection.
  • Regularly wash all recycling items and clean the bins that contain garbage or recycling.
  • Clean BBQs and burn off any residue from cooking.

Bears need upwards of 24,000 calories per day between August and late November to bulk up for denning

  • Pick all ripe fruit from trees and ensure overripe fruit is regularly cleaned up.
  • Maintain healthy trees with annual maintenance and fruit reduction methods.  
  • Remove bird feeders and only feed birds between December 15 and March 1.
  • Ensure backyard composters are working with equal parts of browns and greens, veggie or garden waste only and keep it damp – NO meat or bread. Stop using it before the hard frost and cover with lots of leaves to allow it to freeze.
  • Feed pets indoors and make sure no leftover food is available outside.

Bears will return again and again if they obtain even a small food reward. Be cautious walking around your sheds and outbuildings near dawn and dusk as surprising a bear may make it more defensive. 

Wildfires can affect bears and other wildlife
During and post-wildfire season, areas that have been subject to wildfire and heavy smoke can affect bears and wildlife, causing them to be more unpredictable. This is especially true if they have had to flee their regular home range. Bears are looking for water, food and safe shelter in unfamiliar surroundings. Most wildlife, predators included, are range animals and can become anxious and act irrationally when fearful of a perceived or real imminent threat or harm. This can put them in conflict with other wildlife and humans.

For more information on attractant management visit: www.rdos.bc.ca and click on WildSafeBC or visit www.wildsafebc.com

The Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline should be used to report wildlife-human interactions where public safety may be at risk: 1-877-952-7277

For further information, please contact Shelley Fiorito, RDOS Projects Coordinator at 250-490-4110 or email rdos@wildsafebc.com


Mark Pendergraft, Chair
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen 


Shelley Fiorito
RDOS Projects Coordinator

Sara Foss


RDOS Toll-Free

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Black bear trashbin Mark Levisay