Two bears were spotted walking the cliffs above the Okanagan Rail Trail in the Vernon area Saturday, June 27, 2020. (David Ellis - Contributed)

Bears hike Rail Trail near Vernon

Bears spotted throughout Greater Vernon Area reminder to be bear aware

Two bears were spotted on a popular path system this weekend reminding users to be Bear Aware.

Okanagan Rail Trail user David Ellis snapped some photographs of the two bears walking the cliffs above the trail around the three-kilometre mark on the north end Saturday, June 27.

Several bears have been spotted around the Greater Vernon Area in the past few weeks, from provincial parks to golf courses and even in a man’s living room.

On June 17, Sue and Jake Folliott and their dog Lily were driving out for a hike when they saw a mother and cub walk across Okanagan Landing Road to the entrance of Ellison Provincial Park.

“I’ve never seen a bear,” Sue Folliott said. “Glad I was in my car and didn’t come across them in the park on the trail or campground.”

“We were on high alert after that while we were walking around the lake,” she added.

A bear and cub have also been spotted in the Cosens Bay area of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, while another was seen on Pearson Road near Butcher Boys in Vernon.

Last month, a few golfers at the Rise in Vernon encountered a different kind of obstacle when a bear strolled onto the green.

On May 28, Jon McIntyre snapped a photo of the bear.

“It wouldn’t move,” he said. “So after waiting it out for a bit, we just decided to play.”

“It definitely was hard to putt with a bear that close, but we got it done.”

The Rise’s director of golf, Chad Scott, said the golf course is no stranger to bears. In fact, he said, if golfers see a light-brown, almost reddish colour bear, he and the Rise members “affectionately refer to her as ‘Cinnamon.’”

“She has never caused an issue and golfers are very good about giving her and other bears space,” Scott said. “The photo opportunity is usually short lived as they move off the course fairly fast.”

Conservation officer Tanner Beck said if a bear is being a “natural bear” and there are no attractants, “it’s best to give it space, just as you would in the wild.”

Earlier this month, on June 4, a bear strolled into a Vernon man’s living room in the Foothills area along Silver Star Road.

The man’s front door was open in efforts to beat the summer heat, but he didn’t expect the uninvited guest.

Upon seeing the bear, the homeowner made a noise and the bear turned around and left in response.

Conservation officer Mica h Kneller said the bear was being tracked for a few weeks as it had become habituated to eating neighbourhood garbage.

“This is exactly what we want to prevent happening,” Kneller told the Morning Star.

The bear, once caught, would have to be euthanized as bears cannot unlearn the acquired habit of eating trash.

It is an offence under the BC Wildlife Act to leave or place an attractant that can or may attract dangerous wildlife to a land or premises, meaning garbage cannot be left in a place where wildlife can get to it. Instead, garbage should be secured inside a building or locked metal container until the morning of curbside pickup.

“It’s sort of frustrating for this family because their garbage and everything was stored properly in a location that bears can’t get to it, and the bear walked into their house,” Kneller said. “The problem is the people who aren’t.”

Kneller said bears start by coming around people at night to look for food. If they find a food source near people they’ll start coming more and more, and eventually start coming during the day, when they run into people and dogs.

To report an incident of human-wildlife interaction where public safety may be at risk, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

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