Kathy Murray, WildSafeBC coordinator, teaches onlookers how to safely deploy bear spray. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

WildSafeBC hosts wildlife safety clinic

The event taught locals how to be bear safe while out in the backcountry

Elk Valley locals have had the chance to learn about best practices when encountering wildlife thanks to bear spray workshops hosted by WildSafe BC Elk Valley.

Following a number of Zoom-based wildlife awareness sessions, WildSafeBC coordinator Kathy Murray was eager to delve into socially distant community learning. Seeing the interactive nature of bear spray demonstrations, the event was held in an outdoor setting, with all attendees having pre-registered prior to attendance.

According to Murray, surprising wildlife at a close range provokes defensive behaviour as they defend their food, their space, and their young. In the event of an encounter stay calm, do not run but rather back away, leaving the animal an escape route.

Murray said that bear spray can reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of encountering a predatory attack, but in order to be most effective it must be kept in an easily accessible location where it can be deployed in less than two seconds.

“Bear spray is a great tool, but it is no substitute for using common sense and putting thought and energy into preventing encounters with wildlife,” said Murray.

“There are a number of things you can do, starting with being aware of the environment you are going into, and expect to encounter wildlife at any time. The single best thing you can do though, is to call out and make noise. Bears typically don’t want anything to do with people, so if you are approaching an area where the line of sight is poor, or there are berry bushes, call out and let the animal and other trail users know you are coming.”

WildSafeBC is hosting another wildlife safety event at 10 a.m. on September 5, at the Fernie Information Centre.

For more information on wildlife safety, contact Murray at fernie@wildsafebc.com or visit their website at Wildsafebc.com.


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A variety of animal skulls lined tables at WildSafeBC’s recent bear spray workshop. Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press

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