A bear and her cub seen near Fernie in late Fall 2020. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

WildSafeBC: Education and preventing human-wildlife conflict in the Elk Valley during a pandemic

WildSafeBC’s local coordinator Kathy Murray reports on the year that was

WildSafeBC’s local representative has reported there were 160 black and brown bear reports made in the Elk Valley and South Country to WildSafeBC and the Conservation Officer Service (COS) through the 2020 season.

“Grizzly bear activity was reported throughout the season,” said WildSafeBC Community Coordinator Kathy Murray.

“There were daily grizzly bear sightings on Highline Drive at FAR and The Cedars in the spring and fall. Grizzly bears were also seen just outside Sparwood by a mobile home park and throughout local recreational areas. Black bears were reported throughout Fernie and other communities the entire season,” she said.

The 160 reports represented a decline on 2019, when there were 230 reports made to WildSafeBC and the COS.

“A significant increase in trail and backcountry use resulted in several human-wildlife sightings and encounters which lead to closures of Heiko’s and Josephine Falls trails to protect wildlife, campers and trail users,” said Murray.

“To date, two food conditioned and habituated black bears have been destroyed this year and one grizzly bear was killed by a vehicle on Highway 3 and another was hit by a train. Black and grizzly bear mortality has shown a decreasing trend since 2015 when 33 bears were destroyed in the EVSC program area.”

Murray said that there had been many challenges for the WildSafeBC program due to the pandemic, though she said it turned out to be a good opportunity to be creative in reaching out to more people on wildlife education.

“The standard WildSafeBC program activities were modified to follow COVID-19 safety precautions. Group sizes were smaller, presentations were held on Zoom and outdoors,” she said, explaining that given that her safety talks were usually outdoors, it was a challenge.

“I never rely on technology, so it was a shock for me to do my first wildlife safety talk on zoom using powerpoint and videos!”

Nevertheless, Murray said that Zoom has proven invaluable in reaching children in more remote communities.

“I was grateful for the fall when I talked to more than 500 preschool and kindergarten children in small groups, one class at a time, outside for a basic show and tell with wildlife props and role play. It makes my day when I see parents and they tell me that when they encountered a bear, their 5 year old took the lead and told the group to stay calm and back away slowly. Children are great educators.”

Murray said she was looking forward to being able to set up at community events again in the future in order to engage with the community, but said that over the last year there were many opportunities anyway.

“An increase in trail use was a great opportunity to set up the WildSafeBC display at popular trail heads. You would be surprised at how many people head to trails with brand new bear spray with the zip tie still around the safety latch in the bottom of their backpack! This is not having it easily accessible and knowing how to use it.”

For more information, visit wildsafebc.com.

READ MORE: Bears turn in for winter (soon)



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Wildlife

Just Posted

Fernie Aquatic Centre is scheduled to reopen in mid to late September. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Aquatic Centre to get new starting blocks

The new blocks will allow the centre to host more competitive swim meets

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Brock Tomlinson, Kiera Hansen on top, Jackson Radkie and Jarren Beck are some of the Elk Valley Dolphins' divisional championship qualifiers: pictured here excited to race. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)
Eight Dolphins qualify for divisional championships

Contributed by Angie Abdou Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club June 19th brings… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read