Andrea Fletcher is a face you’ll come to see at trail heads and leading bear spray workshops in the future, as she takes over from Kathy Murray as the local WildSafeBC coordinator for the region. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Andrea Fletcher is a face you’ll come to see at trail heads and leading bear spray workshops in the future, as she takes over from Kathy Murray as the local WildSafeBC coordinator for the region. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Fernie gets new WildSafeBC coordinator

Andrea Fletcher steps into the role vacated by Kathy Murray earlier this year

The Elk Valley has a new WildSafeBC coordinator, with Andrea Fletcher stepping into the role.

Vancouver born and raised, Fletcher has a biology degree from McGill University and has lived in Fernie for the last eight years. Like many who discovered Fernie, she did it through the ski hill where she started with ski patrol following a backpacking journey through B.C.

“I love this town, with such an amazing community and so many outdoor recreation opportunities just minutes away,” said Fletcher.

“Right now, my favorite things to do are probably mountain biking and hanging out at the river with my dog.”

Fletcher steps into the role vacated by long-time WildSafe coordinator Kathy Murray, who retired earlier this year. Fletcher hopes to bring the same passion and more to the position.

“I am very passionate about environmental and wildlife conservation, and finding ways to safely co-exist with the wildlife around us is a crucial part of that,” she said.

“I would love to see the day when the bears that wander through town just wander back out the other side because they were unable to find easy food in our backyards.”

She said there was plenty to be done to make Fernie a safer community for wildlife.

“I would love to see a decrease in the number of accessible attractants around town.

“Once you start looking, it’s pretty astounding just how many unlocked dumpsters and outdoor residential garbage bins there are. And I think a lot of this is just about education. I used to leave my recycling and garbage bins outside all the time, thinking that if they were empty it was not a problem…right up until Kathy pointed out that these bins still look and smell like a food source! I guess a huge focus for me this year will be reducing the number of attractants in town to hopefully, gradually, reduce the number of human-wildlife conflicts we have here.”

Fletcher said she was looking forward to getting to business, with the bear season well and truly set in as of early June.

“With the cold spring temperatures, it has meant that a lot of bears have come down to the valley bottom looking for food. We have seen a number of encounters on trails, as well as food conditioned and habituated bears getting into garbage and even houses. Unfortunately two bears have already had to be destroyed. There is a lot of work to be done here.”

Fletcher will be continuing programs set up by her predecessor such as bear spray workshops, pop-up stands and bear safety talks.

“Kathy did some amazing work in the past and I feel like I have some huge shoes to fill here.”

Contact Fletcher by email at fernie@wildsafebc.com, or learn more through the WildsafeBC website.

READ MORE: Elk Valley WildsafeBC coordinator to retire



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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