Throughout British Columbia, interactions between people and wildlife are a fact of life.
When these encounters happen in rural or undeveloped areas, they can occur without significant consequences, but in urban areas, an encounter with wildlife has the potential to end badly.
Each year, conservation officers receive calls about bears in Summerland and in recent years, cougars have been seen in parts of the community, as well as elsewhere in the Okanagan Valley.
This year, because of the dry conditions and the significant fire season, the number of sightings is higher than usual.
While the sighting of a cougar does not necessarily translate into an attack, the risk is present.
These are wild predators and must be treated as such.
Wild animals of all sorts have been seen in Summerland and the surrounding area. Some, such as rodents and raccoons, are primarily a nuisance, but others, such as bears and cougars, can present a significant danger.
According to WildSafeBC, cougars are solitary animals, preferring to avoid contact with humans.
However, when an encounter occurs, it can end tragically.
The risk of an encounter with wildlife cannot be eliminated, but it can be reduced.
The precautions have been repeated time and again.
Wild animals will show up in urban areas if they think they can find easy sources of food.
Garbage can attract bears and other wildlife. Bird feeders and seed is seen as a convenient food source for rodents and raccoons.
If the food sources are not easily available, wildlife encounters will happen far less frequently.
And if the smaller wildlife are deterred, the predators will not see Summerland and the surrounding area as an easy place to find food.