After a family of bears was caught getting into garbage in Oyama, again, community members are rallying to create safer neighbourhoods.
Bryn White captured a sow and two cubs eating trash near the Okanagan Rail Trail on Sept. 1, and shared the photo on social media asking the community to do its part.
“Let’s not create garbage bears in our community. It becomes dangerous when they associate food with people,” White said on the Oyama Facebook page, along with listing some tips for those living in bear country.
In response, another resident has started a petition at change.org to make Lake Country bear smart.
“It’s literally a growing issue as bear populations are rising from our waste collection system,” Genevieve Daniel told the Lake Country Calendar.
Her road is particularly problematic, at Pada and Talbot where she says may leave their garbage and recycling out the night before the next day’s pickup.
“We have bears waiting at 6 a.m. for their garbage breakfast along with other wildlife,” Daniel said.
“My children’s bus stop is right next to where these bears like to hang out and it’s intimating us away from being outdoors in our yard, on the road for walking, or riding our bikes.
“And every year a bear or two are shot in my neighbourhood driven by domesticated, learned behaviour.”
Citizens are working with the district to explore and hopefully adopt the Bear Smart Program offered through government partners to help the community become safer for both civilians and wildlife.
“I think our community is at its tipping point and we as a community need to talk about how we can make our community safer in moving forward,” Daniel said. “The current system doesn’t take into account that even those who do the right thing with putting out the garbage the day of is not working because the waste collection may come by in the afternoon. There’s also the issue around people working shift work and not being able to put out garbage an hour before.”
In bringing forward new awareness and support, Daniel hopes to add some pressure on the small community and help it transition to better wildlife practices, like other B.C. communities have done under the Bear Smart Program.
“With the growing populations interfacing within Lake Country, our community is facing considerable safety issues at our local school bus stops, roads and streets, and our backyards.”