Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)

The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds WildSafeBC Cowichan Valley coordinator Amanda Crowston, but there is a lot us humans can do to reduce our interactions with them.

”Last year, the areas of higher conflict in the Cowichan Valley included Shawnigan Lake, Maple Bay, and a couple spots around Cowichan Lake,” she said.

The reasons are predictable. More rural areas and… trash.

“Hot spots are the result of bears accessing attractants like garbage, compost and fruit trees,” Crowston noted. “Through garbage tagging bins the night before collection day, and information brochures and booths, bear conflict was reduced.”

One of the best success stories was the community around The Properties in Maple Bay.

“We tagged 131 garbage and compost bins out the night before collection on the first night in The Properties,” Crowston explained. “When we visited the neighbourhood later in the year, only 35 bins were out in the neighbourhood, and the bear conflict had decreased as well. Great job Maple Bay!”

WildSafeBC is the provincial leader in preventing conflict with wildlife through collaboration, education and community solutions and is delivered by the BC Conservation Foundation in communities across BC. The program is available and free to the public and schools in the Cowichan Valley because of sponsors like the Province of BC, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Municipality of North Cowichan, the Township of Ladysmith, Fisher Road Recycling and Island Return-It.

”While the COVID-19 pandemic may be keeping many of us at home, that is not true for the bears and other wildlife that live nearby,” Crowston said.

She’s reaching out to community members in new and innovative ways that maintain physical distancing and safety for the community.

This year’s WildSafeBC modified program initiatives will run from now until November and include door-to-door information delivery campaigns, garbage tagging, and a webinar delivery the WildSafe Ranger Program for school-aged children. That’s in addition to Wildlife Awareness and Safety Education sessions.

”We will continue to provide local wildlife activity news and tips as the season progresses on our local Facebook page,” Crowston noted. “We look forward to hearing from you and with your help, we can reduce conflict with wildlife and keep our community safe.”

To register for a free session, or for further information on wildlife and how to reduce human-wildlife conflict visit www.wildsafebc.com, follow WildSafeBCCowichanValley on Facebook, or contact cowichanvalley@wildsafebc.com or 250-210-7303.

To report wildlife in conflict to the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

Residents can also report sightings of bear, cougar, or wolf in an urban areas. These reports are uploaded daily to WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), available at www.wildsafebc.com/warp.

This program allows the public to see what wildlife has been reported in their neighbourhood and be alerted of new sightings.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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