Ministry of Environment
The Province is providing $275,000 to WildSafeBC to reduce the number of human-wildlife conflicts, keeping people and animals safe, Minister Steve Thomson on behalf of Environment Minister Mary Polak announced recently at the BC Wildlife Federation’s annual general meeting.
“We have to co-exist with many different kinds of wildlife, whether it’s in urban communities or out in the woods. Knowing how to reduce confrontations with wildlife is important not just for the safety of residents and communities, but for the animals as well,” Polak said. “This new funding to WildSafeBC will support the expanded efforts of the BC Conservation Foundation to educate and promote awareness.”
As people venture out into the great outdoors in early spring, the chance of human-wildlife encounters increases as some animals emerge from hibernation. Knowing what causes conflict between humans and wildlife and how to prevent it is the premise of WildSafeBC.
WildSafeBC is an expansion of the Bear Aware program, arming the public with the necessary information to deal with other species of wildlife such as deer, coyotes and cougars.
Frank Ritcey, provincial WildSafeBC co-ordinator, British Columbia Conservation Foundation and a former Clearwater resident said, “This is a great example of the partnerships that can be created, and of the work that can get done when various levels of government work together.
“Because of the core funding provided by the Province, we will now be able to partner with municipalities, regional districts, First Nations, and private trusts to bring the WildSafeBC program to over 100 communities in B.C.” Ritcey said.
The 20 WildSafeBC co-ordinators lead wildlife conflict reduction education at the community level, providing presentations to community groups, schools and residents. They also work closely with local governments and conservation officers to identify and resolve wildlife-related issues in the community.
The Conservation Officer Service is British Columbia’s primary responder to human-wildlife conflicts where there is a risk to public safety, conservation concerns, or where significant property damage has occurred.
In 2013-14, the Conservation Officer Service received 28,063 calls regarding human-wildlife conflicts. Of those calls, 16,180 involved human-bear conflicts. During this same period, the total number of black bear and grizzly bear calls were down slightly from the previous year.
Over the past five years in B.C., an average of 658 black bears have been destroyed each year, while 91 have been relocated due to conflicts with people.
The most effective and natural way to reduce human-wildlife interaction is to put away food attractants such as garbage, birdseed, compost, pet food and fruit.
Relocating wildlife is neither viable nor a long-term solution in managing these kinds of conflicts. Often, relocated wildlife will return to conflict situations or will not survive competing with already established populations.
The BC Conservation Foundation has administered Bear Aware, and now WildSafeBC, since 1998.
For more information on WildSafeBC, visit: www.WildSafeBC.com