WildSafe BC – formerly known as Bear Aware – is well into this season’s wildlife activity with updates, advice and mapping sightings.
“We seemed to start the year off busy with bears,” said Sharon Wieder, Rossland/ Trail WildSafe BC Community Coordinator. “But, it has definitely dropped off now, and I suspect it’s due to the weather and the huckleberry crop.”
Wieder recommended huckleberry pickers travel in groups, make lots of noise and carry bear spray.
“I am doing an informal huckleberry survey to assess the crop, related bear activity and human-wildlife contact,” said Wieder.
Berry pickers who would like to participate in the survey should get in touch. Wieder will have a WildSafe BC stand and information at the Thursday, July 17 Rossland Mountain Market Huckleberry special event. You can also contact Sharon Wieder at 250.231.2751 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The unusually early appearance of bears and high number of reports did lead to about half a dozen being destroyed in the area, as they were getting too comfortable and were not leaving. Garbage was a major factor. Cougar and grizzly sightings were also reported, but no action was required.
“My role is to help people avoid conflict,” said Wieder. “Where they (the grizzlies) are, is their territory. So my advice is if you don’t want to encounter them, stay out of that area.”
The overall regional picture is similar.
“In the region this year – so far – we’ve had more human-bear conflicts than last year,” said Joanne Siderius, Nelson WildSafe BC Community Coordinator.
Last year’s females went into hibernation very healthy due to the strong berry crop and may have produced more cubs than previous years. Also, with the late spring this year, they were coming down closer to urban areas for food.
“Coyotes are feeding their pups right now,” said Siderius, “and, people may be losing cats.”
Deer and elk fawns attract cougars. People who feed deer (not recommended by WildSafe BC) or have deer around their property are at risk of seeing cougars who will be tracking them.
WildSafe’s theme – ‘Live, Work, Play, Grow’ – is the umbrella for their focus on helping residents and visitors live responsibly with wildlife – and reduce conflict. In its 15 years of operation, it has achieved a 50 per cent reduction in the number of bears being destroyed.
With the focus on how to prevent or reduce contact with wildlife, people are asked not to leave food out, keep garbage secure and watch for signs of activity.
The three main wildlife attracters – fruit trees, compost and bird feeders – need careful management to deter them. WildSafe recommends chickens in back yards are best protected with an electric fence.
WildSafe BC is using its Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/wildsafebc, for the most current online information and alerts while they update their website. A recently posted photograph shows ravaged tree trunks, a sign of bears searching for ants, grubs and eggs.
The Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), online at warp.wildsafebc.com, maps reports of bears, cougars and other wildlife sightings to help people be aware, plan activities and take precautions. Since June, several reports of bears in the Rossland and Trail area have been posted on the website.
Citizens are encouraged to report problem wildlife or bears in urban areas by calling 1-877-952-7277.
WildSafe BC is a British Columbia Wildlife Foundation initiative and will soon include all the Bear Aware information on its updated website.