Bear Aware is back for another busy season in Castlegar, but this year, the program has an expanded scope and a new name: WildSafeBC. It has also turned to the use of social media to help in its efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflict throughout the province.
The change comes about in response to an increased number of conflicts with other wildlife species as well as an increased demand for information on managing conflicts with animals other than black bears and grizzlies.
Every year in B.C., the Conservation Officer Service’s RAPP line receives approximately 25, 000 calls about wildlife sightings and conflicts. The majority can be avoided through proper attractant management. WildSafeBC’s mission statement remains the same: to reduce human-wildlife conflict through education, innovation and cooperation.
WildSafeBC has also launched an exciting new mapping program under the name of Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP) on the WildSafeBC website: www.wildsafebc.com.
Any reports of wildlife sightings or conflicts will be marked on this map of B.C. which will enable residents to keep an eye on wildlife activity in their neighbourhood. The hope is that when residents know there is a bear hanging around their street, they will be vigilant about securing attractants (e.g.: taking down birdfeeders, bringing in the garbage, and giving the barbecue a quick clean).
By providing residents with these updates of wildlife activity, we hope to greatly reduce preventable conflicts and the unnecessary destruction of wildlife as a result.
To report a wildlife sighting or conflict, call the RAPP line at 1 (877) 952-7277.
“When we were ‘Bear Aware’ and our focus was solely on black bears and grizzlies, we were busy,” says Provincial Coordinator Frank Ritcey, “but now that we are dealing with all forms of human-wildlife conflict, we’re incredibly busy. Because of that increase we needed to find a way to expand our messaging beyond the standard face-to-face educational processes that we used to employ.”
Facebook pages have been created for the twenty plus communities that WildSafeBC has coordinators based in. One primary page has been established for the whole of the province (www.facebook.com/wildsafebc)
“I am really excited to have this new venue for discussing local wildlife issues in the Castlegar area,” added Jenny Wallace, the WildSafeBC Community Coordinator for Castlegar. “By ‘liking’ our page, people can automatically get any updates I post about current wildlife conflicts or find solutions for managing backyard attractants. My hope is that this site will enable us to have a constructive conversation about wildlife issues in Castlegar. Feedback from the community will help WildSafeBC to prioritize our tasks and goals for the season and increase our effectiveness in the Castlegar area!”
To find us just log-in to your Facebook page and search for WildSafeBC Castlegar.
For more information contact: Jenny Wallace, WildSafeBC Community Coordinator, Castlegar at Office: 250-365-8971; Home: 250-365-1499 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This educational program is owned and developed by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and is sponsored in Castlegar by Columbia Basin Trust, City of Castlegar, RDCK and the BC Ministry of Environment.