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)

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

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Bay tennis player Grace Haugen takes part in an exhibition at the South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club in 2019, which also included Canadian legends Frank Dancevic and Daniel Nestor. Haugen has committed to further her career at the University of Montana starting next fall. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Bay tennis player prepares for next step in her journey

Grace Haugen commits to University of Montana

Police and fire crews at work at a fire scene at Mount Prevost School (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Classes cancelled for Mount Prevost students today

Second school fire in five days for North Cowichan schools

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Nursing staff at West Coast General Hospital celebrate the announcement of a $6.25-million expansion of the emergency department that will start in March 2021. (File photo)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

Most Read