Close encounters with bears a reminder to pick fruit and store garbage safely

Bear encounters warn home owners to pick their fruit and take extra care with household garbage.

Sheila Rowe was eating breakfast at her home on Broadway Ave. North Thursday morning when she noticed an unwelcome visitor was peering in through her window.

“I heard a thump on the trailer and there was a bear looking in my window,” Rowe says, adding the sighting happened at about 10 a.m. “It scared the heck out of my cat.”

She says the bear stayed at the window for five to 10 minutes before leaving to go up a nearby hill.

“He sat up there for about half an hour and kept looking down. I was watching him and finally he left, and he went toward Toop (Road).”

Rowe says she tried to contact the Conservation Officer Service immediately after seeing the bear.

“But they never came and they never phoned,” she says, adding she wants people in the neighbourhood to be aware there is a bear in the area.

Ken Owens from the Conservation Office in Williams Lake confirms there have been several bear complaints in the last 10 days in the Williams Lake area.

All calls go to the main office in Victoria and then are conveyed to conservation officers’ Iphones.

Recently two bears were euthanized — one on Aug. 21 near McLeese Lake and one Aug. 26 on White Road.

Members of the predator attack team were called out to McLeese Lake in the early hours of Aug. 21. “It was a minor injury. The bear made contact with a person. It stood up on its hind legs and threw out a paw and hit the guy on the upper right shoulder,” Owens says.

Insp. Darcy MacPhee  of the Thompson/Cariboo Region notes the bear was feeding on saskatoon berries, clover and garbage in the area.

“That was a bit of a problem in that general area so the bear had been to a few houses, and this guy was the unfortunate one that was harmed, fortunately it wasn’t very serious.”

The bear was captured on the property, euthanized and sent in for a necropsy.

“We do that to see if there is any indication why the bear would have struck this person,” MacPhee says, adding in the case of an animal that attacks someone, there is no option but to put it down.

MacPhee notes it was unusual to have a report of a bear attacking in a standing position.

“It’s not something we have seen in an attack.”

Owens says bears are arriving a little earlier than normal.

“We have a lot of bears that come into the city limits so we’re reminding people to manage their non-natural attractants. We have bears that become habituated to bird feeders in the summer time and often those bird feeders are close to homes. Garbage is an attractant so people should not be putting their garbage out until the morning of their garbage pick-up.”

Crab apple trees are also an attractant and residents are encouraged to pick the fruit, rather than leave it  on the trees or ground.


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