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Column: Fawning season in Sparwood

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks on staying safe around wildlife

With nicer weather well underway, we have been receiving many reports of wildlife interactions within the District of Sparwood. With fawning season here, and bears and other wildlife on the move looking for food, it is important for residents to be aware, and educated on how to peacefully co-exist with wildlife and reduce conflict. I would like to take this opportunity to address two of the more common, and serious wildlife interactions that occur within our community this time of year.

While most people find great pleasure in seeing the new spotted fawns throughout town, fawning season is also the time to be highly cautious and vigilant around deer. Does can quickly become challenging and highly aggressive if they perceive any threat towards their fawn. This instinct can create many conflicts as deer can aggressively stalk or charge people and pets. There are many things that residents can do to reduce these interactions, such as keeping dogs on a leash at all times, giving deer extra space, and practicing the following safety tips if you do find yourself face to face with a deer.

Avoid eye contact as this can be seen as challenging behaviour.

Remain quiet. Waving your arms and yelling is threatening to the doe, causing the mother to feel even more protective of her fawn.

Cross the street and give the deer as much space as possible.

Identify escape routes. If you are in a position where you cannot avoid a confrontation, try to identify escape routes where you can get something solid, such as a tree or car in between you and the deer.

Change your route. If a deer appears to be following you, try changing direction. You may unknowingly be walking toward a hidden fawn.

Keep your dog near you. Dogs are natural threats to deer. Not only is it important to keep your dog leashed when out walking but if you see a deer, keep your dog near you as you walk. Never release the leash to let the dog chase the deer away.

If you find a fawn, leave it alone. Fawns are intentionally hidden, and it is common for them to be left for periods of time by their mother. Do not touch or move the fawn.

Recently, we have received the first reports of bears being seen within our community this year. The natural curiosity of bears, and lure of attractants brings them into and around our community. Foraging in communities is a learned behaviour that threatens the safety of both bears and residents. If people do not make bear attractants such as garbage and fruit trees available, we can minimize human-bear conflict. Some general guidelines found below will help to keep you safe in the backcountry and minimizes the potential of bears in the community.

Watch for bear signs like scat, tracks, and freshly overturned logs.

Make noise when out in the backcountry and on trails to avoid surprising a bear.

Be aware of your surroundings and do not use headphones.

Avoid hiking alone.

Keep pets leashed or under control when in bear country.

Manage your attractants. Ensure apple and other fruit trees are picked and garbage is securely

stored away. Other attractants such as pet food, bird food, and poorly cleaned bbq’s can easily draw a bear in to town and put community members at risk.

Carry bear spray and be able to access it quickly.

If you see a bear, or other problem wildlife, please phone the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service toll free at 1.877.952.7277. Further details on keeping wildlife wild and communities safe can be found at https://wildsafebc.com/.

The District’s Community Standards Bylaw is part of an ongoing commitment to being a Bear Smart community and keeping citizens and bears safe. The bylaw provides regulations for waste and wildlife attractant management to help reduce human-bear conflict. More information can be found at www.sparwood.ca/.

-David Wilks, Mayor of Sparwood