By John McDonald
Its that time of year, again, when black bears getting ready for winter, start to show up on the edges of town, frequenting orchards and seeking other sources of food.
At least one Mission mom is taking no chances, keeping her daughter inside, while a black bear slumbers in a tree just behind their property.
“We just noticed it this morning. I’ve got my daughter in the house. I don’t want her outside,” said Deb Morton, who lives on Hammer Court near Bellevue Creek. “We posted a sign on the walkway beside our house telling people there is a bear sleeping in the tree.”
Morton said she hasn’t bothered calling the conservation officers because of the reaction she got from them last year, when she called to report a sow and two cubs hanging out about 40 feet up a ponderosa pine at the end of her yard.
“They said as long as they’re not hurting anybody, they won’t do anything,” said Morton, who admitted her neigbhours don’t seem to be as concerned as she is.
“We just moved here last year, so this is new to us.”
A call to the Kelowna conservation office was not returned, but bears are one of the most popular subjects on their website.
Most critical, the website says, is not to give bears access to human food
According to the website:
• People teach bears bad habits. If bears are allowed to access human food and garbage, they quickly learn to associate it with people and become what is called food-conditioned. These bears lose their fear of humans and become habituated to people.
• Habituated and food-conditioned bears are more difficult to drive away than wild bears. If a bear develops a taste for human food, it usually keeps coming back for more. Wild bears can become permanently food-conditioned after only one encounter with non-natural food.
• Food-conditioned bears learn to expect human food and are more likely to approach people than wild bears. These bears can damage your property and they are a potential risk to you and the safety of your family. In most cases, however, when a bear comes into conflict with people, it’s the bear that loses.
• Both bears and humans like to settle in lush valleys and along creeks. More people are developing in these areas which means that bears will be living in closer proximity to people. Bears that live near human settlements can become “problem” bears if they are allowed to access non-natural food.
• Some conflicts with bears can be reduced if towns are planned with bears in mind. For example, subdivisions should not be build in prime bear habitat. Also, movement corridors should be provided for bears, allowing them to escape from towns and giving them access to additional habitat.
For more information go to www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/info/bearaware/index.html