Editorial: A wildlife awareness refresher

Spring has sprung in the Elk Valley. And what says spring more than the arrival of newly born wildlife...

Spring has sprung in the Elk Valley. The flowers are blooming, the barbeques have been dusted off, and skis and snowboards have been swapped for road and mountain bikes. And what says spring more than the arrival of newly born wildlife. Baby deer, elk, moose, and bears are taking their first steps, eating their first meals, and venturing around town – with or without their mothers.

After a long winter, it’s time to remember that we share our home with a variety of furry friends we don’t often see when the valley is covered in a blanket of snow. Whether you’ve run into a bear in your backyard, a moose on the trails, or spotted a family of deer taking a leisurely stroll down the street, wildlife is everywhere in the Elk Valley. Now seems like as good a time as any for a refresher on how to keep your distance and respect our not so friendly neighbours.

There are a number of things you can do to keep your home safe and less desirable to wildlife:

– Keep garbage secured in a bear resistant container or in the house, garage, or shed until pick-up day, and return the containers to the secure site once they are emptied.

– Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily and remove any unused fruit trees.

– Put away your bird feeders. If you do have them out, keep the ground under the feeders free of seeds and nuts.

– Keep your grill clean and store your barbecue in a secure area away from the prying paws of bears and other animals.

– Keep your pet dishes and food inside, not out on your deck or patio.

If you’re heading out on a walk, hike, or bike ride, make sure you are not only bear aware, but wildlife aware:

– Bring a friend with you; your voices will help keep wildlife away. If you must travel alone, make as much noise as possible – don’t be afraid to call out into the forest every once in a while to avoid surprising animals.

– Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

– Carry bear spray and know how to use it, but only rely on it as a last resort. Most human-bear encounters can be resolved without the use of bear spray, if not avoided entirely.

– Be aware of animal tracks and signs that animals are close by.

Wildsafe BC provides helpful tips on staying wildlife aware whether you’re at home, work, or at play. They also report all wildlife sightings in our area. Check out their website at www.wildsafebc.com or visit their Facebook page: Wildsafe BC Elk Valley.