Conservation officers have responded to 1

Conservation officers have responded to 1

Officers defend animal response

Negative publicity won’t keep conservation officers from making some difficult decisions

Negative publicity won’t keep conservation officers from making some difficult decisions.

The recent killings of an overly-friendly deer and a sow bear and two cubs in Coldstream were addressed head on as Barb Leslie, an inspector with the Conservation Officer Service, spoke to the Regional District of the North Okanagan board Wednesday.

“We’ve had some tremendous controversy on some of the actions we’ve taken in this area,” she said.

However, Leslie insists that both the deer and the bears had been aggressive towards people and the situations were only going to escalate unless something was done.

“Public safety is No. 1. We have to ensure citizens are protected.”

From April 1 to Oct. 7, there have been 1,215 cases of problem wildlife in the North Okanagan. That compares to 1,673 for all of 2012/13, with 679 of those cases being black bears.

Leslie is urging residents to minimize conflicts with bears by securing garbage and barbecues, cleaning up ripe fruit and removing bird feeders.

“Make sure your yard is inhospitable to wildlife.”

Beyond bears, questions arose Wednesday around a recent influx of coyotes in Okanagan Landing.

“I’ve lived there 23 years and there have never been so many incidents of them in broad daylight,” said director Juliette Cunningham, adding that there is a concern about pets and small children.

Leslie says officers only respond to coyote complaints when there is a direct public threat.

“Coyotes are extremely adaptive and in an urban setting, there is lots to eat, whether it’s field mice or feral cats,” she said.

Leslie was also asked about illegal dumping in rural areas, and she says her office is willing to provide local bylaw enforcement with remote cameras.

“If we get people coming into a site with garbage, we will follow up on it,” she said.

Leslie is also encouraging residents to report cases of illegal dumping.

“If you see someone coming up the road (with garbage) and then coming back down empty, take a picture,” she said.

To report poachers and polluters, residents can call 1-877-952-7277.