A wildlife awareness society says residents of Prince George, B.C., can expect an increasing number of bear encounters in the next few weeks as the furry omnivores search for food to fatten up for winter.

Northern Bear Awareness Society president Dave Bakker says he expects 200 complaints in the city over the next six weeks as berry crops wane and bears are tempted by open garbage, dirty BBQs, and unpicked fruit instead.

"We wouldn't have conflicts in such high numbers if bears weren't being invited into our neighbourhoods for free lunches," Bakker said. 

In an average year, Prince George gets 800 bear complaints and 40 bears are killed.

Bakker said the number of bear encounters isn't unusual in B.C., especially for a city surrounded by forest. 

Local resident Dave Fuller said he saw a bear just off his back porch recently.

"I was involved in a bear attack last fall, so I was a bit nervous. But I went down and growled at it, and it ran off," Fuller said.

"Just be respectful of the bears — they've got their own life to live as well."

With files from Betsy Trumpener