The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has responded to 438 problem wildlife complaints and euthanized about 10 bears in the Merritt area since April, Service Inspector Barbara Leslie says.

She said the numbers are typical for this time of year.

“For us, a typical year is actually a good thing,” Leslie said. “When we start seeing a hot dry summer, we get unusually high complaints because berry crops fail and bears come into where things are green. This wet summer was pretty good for our service.”

Conservation Chief Supt. Barry Farynuk said fall is a critical time of year for people to manage attractants, such as garbage and fruit trees.

“Right now, fortunately, we’re starting to see our bear complaints taper off a bit because they’re starting to think about hibernation,” Farynuk said.

“But they’re so intent on feeding right now and getting those 8,000 calories a day they need.”

Farynuk said the department has received about 33,000 complaints this year for everything from turkeys to cougars to bears.

Bear Aware, an organization that works with cities and Conservation Officers to reduce human and bear conflict, said they’ve received calls for about 140 bear sightings this year, which is three times more than last year. However, the organization reported about 100 less bear sightings in Kamloops over the same period.

“That can either be that there are more problems happening in Merritt (there are more attractants) or people are more aware of the report line. It’s probably a combination of the two,” Bear Aware TNRD Community Co-ordinator Emily Lomas said. “Whenever people do report a bear, it’s usually to do with fruit or garbage, so there’s obviously an issue there.”

Lomas said there are a number of things people can do to reduce attractants, including picking all the fruit off trees, installing electric fences, keeping garbage inside, and freezing garbage to reduce its smell.