Local bear sightings are increasing as winter beckons and apples ripen.
The 100 Mile House Conservation Officer Service is advising residents take precautions.
Conservation Officer Colin Kravontka says sightings are on the rise across the region, both in and outside the municipal boundaries.
Bears on Scott Road, Cariboo Trail, Highway 97 just south of 100 Mile and multiple sightings in Lac la Hache have been reported, but other sighting only circulate via rumours.
Kravontka says the difficulty in following up on all of bear sightings is many of them go unreported to the conservation officers because witnesses fail to call them in to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.
Kravontka notes the RAPP number is the best and fastest line to route the information to the COs for follow-up, as investigations two days later or with second-hand information don’t pan out when it comes to finding a moving predator.
He advises against leaving a message at the local office, as they don’t reach the COs as quickly.
Attractants are the real issue, however, when it comes to problem bears, he explains.
Most bears are now finding the berries are finished and are actively, even boldly, looking for food sources to tide them over their winter hibernation period.
Fruit trees are one of the biggest food sources for hungry bears and all fruit should be picked, he says, or better yet, don’t plant them.
Even ornamental fruits, such as Mountain Ash berries, flowering cherries and crabapples are favoured by bears and may bring them into your yard.
Pet food stored outside and bird feeders are also attractants, and Kravontka notes birds don’t need supplemental food in the fall.
Don’t place garbage cans out for pickup until the last minute and store them inside a shed, which is also a good place to store barbecues when they’re not in use.
Keep both items as clean as possible, he adds, noting a bit of bleach in water is helpful for eradicating the trash smell.
Both bears and cougars are out on the prowl, so Kravontka suggests people take precautions when they or their pets are outside.
He asks everyone to call in all bear or cougar sightings personally to the RAPP line (1-877-952-7277) immediately, even if the animal isn’t behaving in a threatening manner.
While urgent action may not be needed by the COs in some cases, Kravontka notes it is always useful in gathering data to determine when an animal’s behaviour is becoming problematic.
Bears or cougars spotted near schools and bus stops, subdivisions, parks or other areas where children gather are especially important to report quickly, he says, adding neighbours will also appreciate a warning if a is predator lurking in the vicinity.