A juvenile bear that had been hanging around downtown Penticton has been shot and killed, confirmed a conservation officer on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, we looked at the record for this bear and deemed it habitualized and a public safety risk,” said Penticton conservation officer Clayton DeBruin.
“Because it was looking for food in high use areas in the heart of downtown, for public safety, we had to put it down.”
Conservation officers were called out to the Safeway parking lot around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31.
The bear ran away and up a tree on a property on Regina Avenue.
The bear was tranquilized while in the tree and then killed, said DeBruin.
“Bears pay the ultimate price for our mistakes or negligence,” he added.
The juvenile bear had been using the inner city ravines in search for food and had become a high-profile bear with sightings at the trailer park on Okanagan Avenue, Parkway Elementary, Cherry Lane Mall near Warren Ave., and Lions Park, said DeBruin.
“It’s very tough as a conservation officer to take a bear’s life when all it was doing was being lured into a community by garbage left out.”
Bear sightings are way up this year.
To date, conservation officers have had 385 black bear calls from Penticton to as far as Keremeos. This same time last year, there were 229 calls.
Conservation officers who work out of the Penticton office cover Peachland to Oliver, Osoyoos and Keremeos.
“I’m not a bear biologist so it’s hard to speculate why the calls are up but we suspect the wildfires have resulted in loss of habitat for the bears. It’s also harvest time for the vineyards and orchards and bears are looking to fatten up,” said DeBruin.
This is the time of year when bears are looking to eat as much as they can to ready for hibernation this winter.
To keep bears safe, the conservation office is asking people to not have any attractants for bears, including securing your garbage and not putting it out the night before, not having bird feeders out, and to make sure to clear orchards when fruits are ready to pick.
This time of year is also when conservation is handing out fines for those who are leaving attractants for wildlife. Fines for leaving garbage and food out can be from $230 to $575.
The City of Penticton also has a wildlife attractant bylaw. Early curbing of garbage can lead to a fine.
If you have a neighbour or know of a property that is attracting bears with garbage and food you can phone the RAPP line at 1-877-952-RAPP.
The RAPP line is also the number to call for bear sightings in playgrounds or parks or aggressive bears.