Three bears destroyed in Lowertown

Conservation officers destroyed a mother black bear and two juvenile bears in Lowertown last week.

Conservation officers destroyed a mother black bear and two juvenile bears in Lowertown last week after the bears were considered a danger to residents in the area.

The incident occurred on April 14 at 10:48 a.m. when the bears were seen getting garbage in the back of a truck on Lakeshore Drive.

Conservation officers were called and after observing the bears, made the decision to have them put down.

Barb Leslie, inspector in charge of operations for the Conservation Officer Service, Okanagan Region, said the bears had become habituated to garbage, had lost their fear of people and appeared to be in poor health.

“They were walking like they were in pain,” she said.

The sow was in excess of 113 kilograms, extremely large for a female bear at this time of year.

The heavy weight is likely the result of the bears eating garbage on a regular basis, she said.

Leslie said the decision to put down the bears was not made lightly.

“It’s unfortunate the officers had to destroy the bears,” she said. “We don’t like doing that.”

She said relocating the bears to another area was not considered workable.

Summerland has had other incidents of bears and other wildlife which were destroyed because they were considered threats to the population.

Leslie said residents should put their garbage out on the morning of garbage pickup days, not on the night before.

Bird feeders should not be used at this time of year.

Zoe Kirk, WildSafe BC Community Coordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, said efforts can be made to deter bears from populated areas.

She said when garbage is left outside overnight, bears will become used to it as a food source.

“The fact that the bears were getting into the back of a pickup is an exceedingly dire situation,” she said.

Education is needed to reduce the number of problem wildlife encounters, Kirk said.

“We would have to do some on-the-ground education here,” she said.

While WildSafe BC works to provide awareness and education in the region, Kirk said the time available for such training is limited.