WildSafeBC funding should help reduce human-wildlife conflict
To help reduce the number of human-wildlife conflicts, which some are potentially dangerous situations, the Province is awarding WildSafeBC $275,000 to provide education and increase awareness in communities.
As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, British Columbians are spending more time outdoors, increasing the chances of human-wildlife conflict.
The majority of these encounters are with bears emerging from hibernation and looking for food. Other wildlife − such as cougars, coyotes and wolves − are becoming more active, and increasing the potential for conflict.
“The fact is, we share our communities with wildlife and it’s our responsibility to take action to manage human-wildlife conflict,” said Mary Polak, Minister of Environment
“WildSafeBC is a valuable resource that promotes awareness and provides education to keep both residents and wildlife safe. By taking simple steps, like putting away garbage and birdseed, we can make a big difference in reducing these conflicts.”
This provincial funding will allow WildSafeBC to support more than 100 communities throughout B.C. in their efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. This year, 22 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.
“Our goal of ‘keeping wildlife wild, and communities safe’ seems to be gaining acceptance throughout the province,” said Frank Ritcey, provincial WildSafeBC co-ordinator, British Columbia Conservation Foundation.
“While we have a ways to go, I think British Columbians can be proud of the fact that they are getting so much better at reducing human-wildlife conflict.”
The primary objective is keeping wildlife wild and communities safe by arming British Columbians with the tools necessary to discourage wildlife from lingering 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 B.C.’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 2014-15, the Conservation Officer Service received 29,200 calls regarding human-wildlife conflicts. Of those calls, 17,771 involved bears.
- 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.
- 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.