Be bear aware in the Lakes District this summer

Conservation officers now have the ability to issue new fines for attracting dangerous wildlife to those who don't secure bear attractants.

Conservation officers now have the ability to issue a $230 ticket to residents who don’t secure bear attractants.

Conservation officers now have the ability to issue a $230 ticket to residents who don’t secure bear attractants.

Recent changes to the Wildlife Act give conservation officers the ability to issue a $230 ticket or a notice for a court appearance to residents who do not secure bear attractants.

Residents who intentionally leave out items that attract dangerous wildlife could also be issued a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order and failure to comply with an order carries a $575 fine.

According to conservation officers, the main cause of human and wildlife conflicts in B.C. is access to non-natural food sources.

Bears that learn how to get at exposed pet food, ripe fruit, improperly stored garbage, dirty barbecues or composts become conditioned and will continue to return to the area.

Local area conservation officer Jeff Palm said there has been a number of issues involving black bears in the Burns Lake area so far this season.

“Conservation officers in Burns Lake have been responding to bear complaints that are typical for this time of year.

Two black bears have been destroyed in the Burns Lake area because of conflicts with livestock and a sow and cubs were moved from a residence near Tchesinkut Lake in May.

Currently, officers have a trap set for a black bear who has been killing chickens East of town. The public is reminded to keep all attractants such as garbage locked up and out of reach of bears,” Palm said.

In communities where attractants are managed properly, there has been a decline in related human-bear conflict and the number of bears that have to be destroyed.

During the 2011-2012 season, conservation officers across the province received approximately 37,500 calls regarding human-wildlife conflicts.

Of those calls, approximately 23,800 involved human-bear conflicts and over the past five years in B.C., an average of 600 black bears have been destroyed each year, while 93 were relocated.

As reported in the Lakes District News edition of July 27, 2011, a Lakes District woman suffered injuries to her head and torso when she was attacked by a black bear near Topley Landing last year.

The woman had been walking her dog near the Babine Lake community when the dog ran off and returned with a bear in pursuit.

The bear then turned its attack on the woman, but the dog came back to divert the bear long enough for the woman to escape.

Report human-wildlife conflicts that threaten public safety or result in significant property damage by calling the Report All Poachers and Polluters line, toll-free at 1-877-952-7277 or visit www.rapp.bc.ca.