Five black bears were shot and killed by conservation officers in the Wiltse neighbourhood in Penticton, B.C. the morning of Oct. 24 due to public safety concerns. (Karla Ziegler - Photo)

UPDATE: ‘This is nearly unprecedented’: Five bears killed after roaming near Penticton school

The bears’ death come only a week-and-a-half after six more bears were killed in West Kelowna

Five black bears were shot and killed by conservation officers near Wiltse Elementary Schoold on Thursday afternoon in Penticton.

Zoe Kirk, Wildsafe BC community coordinator, said conservation officers were forced to kill the bears after they were seen roaming the neighbourhood, and at least one of them charged a teenager.

“For our region, this is nearly unprecedented,” said Kirk “They couldn’t remember in 28 years if this has ever happened before that so many bears at once had to be destroyed.”

Prior to shooting the bears she said conservation officers called the RCMP and the school was locked down to ensure the public was safe.

READ MORE: Six bears destroyed in three days in West Kelowna

According to one of two members of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service who responded to the complaint, there was no choice but to humanely euthanize the animals with high-powered rifles.

Sgt. James Zucchelli said the bears had been operating in the area for about a week to 10 days going “door to door” foraging through garbage, compost piles and fruit trees resulting in an escalation of complaints and incidents over the last two days.

“The entire situation came to a head Wednesday night when a young man was charged by a bear. We got a call from the school this morning and a photograph showing the five bears in green space within about 30 yards of the school grounds, they were all milling around while the kids were coming and going to school. So, out of concern for public safety, we had to euthanize them,” said Zucchelli, who described the bears as three adult males and two sub-adult females.

“This is a situation that reflects back on the community, there was a considerable amount of garbage, it’s the garbage that’s killing these bears, not the conservation service. The service regrets what happened today, we feel for the community, we feel for the bears and we feel for the officers involved in these situations.”

Prior to being shot, the five animals went up a large ponderosa pine tree near a residence on Ponderosa Place about 30 metres from the ground, which would have made it impossible for the conservation officers to safely euthanize the bears from that height.

“Hopefully this is a wake-up call to the community and they use this to draw the line in the sand and say this is not going to happen anymore.”

It’s the second time a group of bears have been shot in the Okanagan in the past week-and-a-half.

On Oct. 14, 15 and 16 conservation officers were forced to kill six food-condition bears near Okanagan Lake Resort.

READ MORE: West Kelowna resort denies being fined after six bears destroyed

In that case a West Kelowna business was criminally charged under the Wildlife Act and a dangerous wildlife protection order was issued. The Conservation Officer Service refused to name the business.

In an ironic twist, just as conservation officers were killing the five bears in Penticton, down the road in Naramata the community was being recognized by the province as a “bear smart” community.

Over the past five years, Naramata has dramatically reduced the number of human-wildlife conflicts thanks to bear-resistant garbage carts, bylaws restricting when residents can put out their garbage out and a grass-roots education program.

“It’s a very rude awakening and a reminder that here we are in one community celebrating the fact that the community has pulled together, manages their attracts and learns to live with bears and then just down the road it can be a different story.”

The public is also advised to call 1-877-952-7277 regarding any conflict with wildlife and related matters.

READ MORE: Naramata recognized as a ‘bear smart’ community for the second time


Paul Clarke
Assistant bureau chief, B.C. Interior South Division
Email me at paul.clarke@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 2: Six new COVID-19 deaths: provincial health officer

Thousands of ‘PPE’ donated in Surrey, where one care home is ‘preparing for the worst’

SafeCare BC’s Operation Protect drive involves drop-off dates in Guildford

Psychologist’s advice on parenting in the pandemic

SFU psychology prof Dr. Tanya Broesch, with expertise in child development, discusses short and long-term impacts COVID-19 pandemic is having on children and parents alike

‘Shocking decision’: Surrey soccer club won’t offer refunds to 350 teams for cancelled tourney

Registration fees would top $171K for Surrey Mayor’s Cup, called off due to COVID-19

Bayside rugby director makes pitch for season shift

Andy Blackburn suggests COVID-19 cancellation could be impetus for BC Rugby change

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Abbotsford man who tries to start gas-station fight gets sprayed with gasoline

Suspect returns with knife and throws it at victim, but is quickly arrested by police

Abbotsford family of 5 who was stuck in Vietnam is now back home

Janzen family sends ‘huge and heartfelt’ thank you to everyone who helped

Most Read

l -->