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Bear tears through B.C. shed, rips freezer lid to get to garbage

Bears terrorize B.C. family, tearing open sheds and freezers multiple times over a the past year.

An Okanagan Falls, B.C., family is struggling to deal with a bear terrorizing their property, after trying to keep it away through increasingly stricter measures of securing their garbage.

Casey Trelenberg said the first incident happened a year ago, on their second night at the house after moving in.

“The bear broke down the shed and then there's just been different bears coming and going, getting garbage in any way they can.”

She said they called the provincial conservation hotline to report the visits and get tips on how to keep out the animal.

The family started to clean out their cans weekly and keep their garbage in a locked shed.

“Then three months ago there was a bear that was coming up on our patio and ripping out our garden, chewing up our watering cans and just hanging around.”

The family bought an extra large heavy-duty freezer to better store the garbage inside the shed and keep it from smelling.

“Just recently, there's been a new bear coming by and he's been ripping down the shed. He lifted up the five-foot chest freezer on its side a couple of days ago and then two nights ago he just ripped the freezer off and the freezer lid open,” Trelenberg said.

She added that it’s been common for the bear to tear at the shed to gain access, but ripping the freezer is new. Every time the bear is trying to gain access to garbage, whether or not any is in the shed.

Trelenberg posted to Facebook in the hope of getting any more advice to help keep the hungry bear out and see if anyone was having a similar experience.

“No one else has mentioned that the bear is as aggressive at their house,” she said. “There was a video posted of the bear trying to get into someone's front door [...] But they obviously didn't get in.”

Trelenberg added that her family is not opposed to calling conservation and has emailed them for advice, but they are just hoping to cut out any possibility of bears gaining access to garbage.

They have decided to move the freezer inside their house to store the garbage

“I hope if I just keep my garbage inside, they'll eventually stop.”

In the meantime, Trelenberg said she is worried about the safety of her young kids.

“Our kids don't have the freedom to go play outside. We used to let them just play on the patio, but now we don't.”

According to a report from the Fur-Bearers, Okanagan Falls was the fourth-deadliest community for black bears in B.C. in 2022, with 12 deaths reported last year.

Conservation officers in the South Okanagan have previously spoken about their frustrations having to put down bears after they become garbage-habituated.

A common question about why bears can't be tranquillized and relocated is officers say is because it is almost never feasible.

A bear that's garbage-conditioned and put out in the forest somewhere will spend all their efforts trying to get back to where it was relocated from, ignoring other food sources or getting killed by another bear.

Unfortunately, there are very specific, unique circumstances that go along with the conditions that will allow them to do the relocation, which is challenging with garbage-conditioned bears and bears that have no fear of people.

There are resources online to learn how to reduce conflict with bears. Click here to find a list of top attractants, and tips on how to keep them secure.

B.C. Conservation was not immediately available for comment.