Ripening fruit crop harvests problems for bears

Okanagan tree fruits attracting bears to Vernon

A key aspect of the Okanagan lifestyle is fruit-laden trees in orchards and backyards, but it can also mean a death sentence for bears.

Bear complaints to the Ministry of Environment have remained steady, partly because of the arrival of fruit season.

“We’re getting a few bears in cherry trees,” said Josh Lockwood, conservation officer.

“The main problem is with vacant lots with abandoned cherry trees. This impacts the neighbourhood because once the fruit is gone, the bears go to garbage as a food source.”

Once addicted to garbage, there is a challenge in relocating bears and officers may have to destroy them to reduce the risk to people.

Lockwood is urging North Okanagan residents to be responsible for their yards, and particularly vacant lots.

“Don’t let cherries go to the ground because the bears will come and scavenge them,” he said.

Lockwood anticipates problems with nuisance bears will continue as other fruit varieties ripen in the North Okanagan.

“The complaints will increase as the apricots and plums come on. The bears love them,” he said.

Besides fruit, other potential food sources for bears are pet food, barbecues, compost and bird feeders.