Every year British Columbians are involved in human-wildlife conflicts. To reduce these potentially dangerous situations, the Province has once again awarded WildSafeBC $275,000 to provide education and increase awareness in communities.
As the days are getting longer and the weather warmer, British Columbians are spending more time outdoors, increasing the chances of human-wildlife conflict. The majority of these encounters are with bears that have emerged from hibernation looking for food. Other wildlife such as cougars, coyotes and wolves are more active, increasing their potential for conflicts.
This provincial funding will allow WildSafeBC to support more than 100 communities throughout British Columbia in their efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. This year,
28 co-ordinators will provide presentations to community groups, schools and residents offering educational tips to reduce these conflicts.
WildSafeBC is designed, owned and delivered by the B.C. Conservation Foundation. The primary objective is keeping wildlife wild and communities safe by arming British Columbians with the tools necessary to discourage wildlife from remaining in residential areas. Locking up garbage, picking ripe fruit and installing sensor lights are a few ways to keep wildlife moving through urban areas.
The Conservation Officer Service (COS) 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. The COS is working closely with local governments and co-ordinators to identify and resolve wildlife-related issues in B.C. communities.
In 2015-16, the B.C. COS received 28,507 calls regarding human-wildlife conflicts. Of those calls, 18,936 involved human-bear conflicts.
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment –
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to take steps to manage human-wildlife conflicts. We share our communities with a wide range of wildlife, and taking simple steps, such as putting away garbage and pet food, can help lessen the chances of such conflicts by keeping wild animals wild. WildSafeBC is an invaluable resource that helps promote awareness and share tips with communities across the province.”
Frank Ritcey, provincial WildSafeBC co-ordinator, British Columbia Conservation Foundation –
“It is always nice to see when communities take a proactive, rather than a reactive, approach to dealing with human-wildlife conflict. Our program has expanded throughout the province and we encourage everyone to help us ‘keep wildlife wild and communities safe.’”
- Communities where attractants are managed properly have seen a decline in related human-wildlife conflicts, and in the number of animals that have to be destroyed.
- The most effective and natural way to reduce human-wildlife interaction is to properly manage food attractants such as garbage, birdseed, compost, pet food and fruit so they are not accessible to wildlife.
- Seven communities (Kamloops, Squamish, Lions Bay, Whistler, Port Alberni, Naramata, New Denver) are designated “Bear Smart” communities, and more than 20 other communities in B.C. are actively pursuing “Bear Smart” status.
- 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 British Columbia Conservation Foundation has administered WildSafeBC (formerly Bear Aware) since 1998.
For more information on WildSafeBC, visit: https://wildsafebc.com/
For more information regarding the “Bear Smart” Communities Program, please visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/plants-animals-ecosystems/wildlife/human-wildlife-conflict/staying-safe-around-wildlife/bears/bear-smart
Predator statistics, including black bears, grizzly bears and cougars are updated monthly at:
Report human-wildlife conflicts to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line toll-free at
1 877 952-7277 (RAPP), or visit the RAPP website: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/rapp/form.htm