A Vernon resident had a close encounter with a bear Thursday afternoon—in his own living room.
Conservation Officer Micah Kneller said the man, who lives in the Foothills area along Silver Star Road, had left open the front door of his house during the afternoon heat when the bear strolled inside. Upon seeing the bear, the homeowner made noise, and the bear turned around and left.
Kneller said the bear was being tracked for a few weeks and had become habituated to eating garbage in the neighbourhood. Conservation officers have set up a live trap in the area, and when the bear is caught, it will have to be euthanized.
“This is exactly what we want to prevent happening,” Kneller said. Bears that have acquired the habit of eating human garbage cannot unlearn this food source.
It is an offence under the 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.
“And then slowly their behaviour escalates to where we’re at now, where the bear is so comfortable with people and so food-conditioned to know that it can find food around people that it feels comfortable enough to walk into someone’s house.”
To report an incident of human-wildlife interaction where public safety may be at risk, call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.