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

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read