Walking away with a bag of garbage, this bear has lost all fear of humans and will not go back to its natural food source. (Submitted photo)

Walking away with a bag of garbage, this bear has lost all fear of humans and will not go back to its natural food source. (Submitted photo)

‘Garbage-fed bears are dead bears’ – Penticton conservation officer

Conservation is getting tough with those who refuse to manage bear attractants

The Western News recently went on patrol with Sgt. James Zucchelli of the Penticton B.C. Conservation Officer Service office as part of a province-wide, attractant management crackdown now underway.

With lives at risk, the gloves are off for conservation officers dealing with people unwilling to manage wildlife attractants.

Right now the concern is the potentially deadly combination of bears, garbage and fruit.

Sgt. James Zucchelli of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service explains the dangers of leaving garbage out overnight to the manager of a business as part of a province-wide attactant management campaign. (Mark Brett – Western News)

This particular evening Sgt. James Zucchelli, a 20-year veteran of the service, is patrolling the Uplands/Carmi and Upper Bench Road regions looking for garbage in non-bear proof containers that have been put out too soon, being left to sit overnight when bears are most active.

“We are tired of having to kill bears because of people’s lack of responsibility,” said Zucchelli. “We’re going to start dropping the hammer, issuing orders, giving tickets. They call them ‘nuisance bears’ but there’s no such thing as a nuisance bear, I believe there’s nuisance people out there.

“Hopefully by doing this we can spur on the communities and community groups to get on board and say ‘no we can’t keep doing this’ in this day of age we need to evolve our mentality around attractant management.”

READ MORE: Garbage attracts bears, put it away or face fines: B.C. conservation officers

Offenders face Wildlife Act tickets ranging from $345 to $575, or even a court date, depending on the severity of the offence.

The patrol this evening through the Uplands region happily doesn’t turn up too many early garbage containers but the Upper Bench region is a different story.

Spotting a couple of cans in front of a business, Zucchelli pulls into the parking lot and goes to find the manager.

After a discussion the two containers are removed.

A short distance away in the 400-block of Upper Bench Road an overflowing garbage container has just been set out on the roadside.

The officer attempts to contact somebody at the residence, not having any luck he wheels the container back up the driveway to the locked gate and leaves one of his business cards.

“We’re done with continually going to communities over and over again to say ‘please put away your garbage, it’s attracting bears and creating a public safety threat,’” said Zucchelli, adding municipalities and regional districts must also step up to the plate with their own bylaws and enforcement to help correct the problem.

“We’re not killing every bear that shows up in a residential area, we’re giving the bears a chance, we’re giving the people a chance to manage their attractants,” he said.

As of mid August, there had been over 10,000 reports of human and bear conflicts in B.C.

Zucchelli adds it’s a popular myth that relocation is the simple solution.

Walking away with a bag of garbage, this bear has lost all fear of humans and will not go back to its natural food source. (Submitted photo)

“It is an inhumane way of managing the problem, it makes everybody feel good, it’s a feel good story to relocate bears, but the reality of it is the relocated bears are dying a horrible death,” he said. “If you take that bear out its home range it’s going to die trying to get back, or it’s going to get eaten by the bears that live there, starve and be more susceptible to hunter harvest.

“It’s like putting a Band Aid on an infected wound, you’re just covering it up for the moment, you’re not dealing with the underlying problem and it’s going to fester underneath.”

There are the added problems of spreading disease, reaction to tranquilizing drugs and a genetics component of the animals’ home range.

In one case a relocated bear travelled over 600 kilometres to get back to where it was caught. From Penticton that’s almost the distance to Calgary or Prince George.

There are special exceptions for relocations including at-risk species and in the case where a mother dies and the cubs are healthy and not human habituated.

READ MORE: Bears in South Okanagan searching for food before hibernating

This evening’s work finishes at dusk and Zucchelli sits in the truck wrapping up the paperwork under the interior light.

“We need the community to take responsibility for themselves. Garbage fed bears are dead bears.”

For information on how to resolve or avoid wildlife conflict go to https://wildsafebc.com and the public is urged to report any conflict by calling the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1-877-952-7277.


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

What’s left of two pails of garbage after bears helped themselves the night before. (Submitted photo)

What’s left of two pails of garbage after bears helped themselves the night before. (Submitted photo)

Just Posted

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
All adults in Rutland, Summerland now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Province expands age range to 18+ for vaccinations in ‘high transmission’ areas

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Penticton RCMP search for 2 suspicious men

Police searching the area of Arawana Forest Service Road

Penticton Lions are hoping to send kids and adults with disabilities to Camp Winfield through a 50/50 raffle draw on now. (Submitted)
Penticton’s Lion’s Club helps to send kids to Camp Winfield

Online 50/50 raffle tickets will send kids and adults with disabilities to Camp Winfield

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Okanagan First Nation band concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, much to dismay of Splatsin First Nation near Enderby

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

Most Read