Bears observed near Summerland’s town core

Three bears were observed in a pine tree on Steven Avenue last week.

When Melissa Campbell noticed a mother bear and two cubs in a pine tree in front of her Steven Avenue house last week, she and her husband contacted provincial conservation officials.

“I’ve been watching them from the house,” she said. “It’s pretty close to town from Steven Avenue.”

However, even though the bears were near the house and on a street just two blocks from Summerland’s downtown, they were not removed.

Barb Leslie, inspector with the provincial conservation service for the Okanagan region, said attempting to remove a mother bear and cubs can be dangerous.

“Dealing with a sow and cubs is very difficult,” she said.

She explained that if one of the cubs is captured before the mother is captured, the result is an angry and aggressive mother bear.

She said residents need to take measures to ensure bears will not want to spend time on their properties.

Zoe Kirk, WildSafeBC community coordinator with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, said the public needs to be alerted when a bear is in the area, until the bear leaves.

She added that relocating a bear or a family of bears often results in a slow death for the animals which have been removed.

Bears, especially those with cubs, will often take refuge in a tree, Kirk said. The mother ensures the cubs are in the higher branches before she climbs to a lower branch until night.

Summerland has had a number of bear incidents this year. Kirk said throughout the province, the number of calls about bears in inhabited areas was down by about 20 per cent. Then, three to four weeks ago, the trend changed and many more bear sightings were reported.

One-quarter of all black bears in Canada, or around 120,000 bears, live in British Columbia.