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Bears seen in Summerland neighbourhoods

Black bear looked in house windows while resident was home
Bears have been seen in some Summerland neighbourhods this spring. Signs have been set out warning when bears have been observed in an area. (Black Press file photo)

Helen Schiffelers was at the table in her house when she saw a black bear at the sliding door, looking in her window.

The sighting was the first time she has had an encounter with a bear in the 31 years she has lived in her home on Bristow Road.

“I like bears,” she said. “I like them on TV but not in my backyard.”

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Bear sightings have been more common in Summerland this spring than in past years and the municipality of Summerland has been posting signs warning residents when the animals have been seen in their areas.

Graham Statt, chief administrative officer for Summerland, said he has also had a recent encounter with a bear. The incident occurred on June 20, while he was walking along the Kettle Valley Railway trail.

Statt said the heat dome last summer, followed by a long winter and late spring this year, has resulted in reduced food supplies for bears. As a result, bears have been seen in urban areas in search of food.

In addition to setting up the warning signs, Statt said Summerland will be working with Conservation Officers. He said fines will be issued to those leaving out bear attractants. This includes those who set out their garbage too early since bears associate the scent of garbage with food.

The fine for leaving attractants out for bears is $345. Statt said residents can be ticketed again if repeat infractions occur.

Fines will be issued beginning in late June.

Bears have been an ongoing problem in communities throughout the Okanagan Valley, and efforts have been launched to remove attractants, especially garbage, to keep bears from urban areas.

In the past, Summerland has issued tickets to those leaving their garbage out too early.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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