WildSafe BC, a British Columbia Conservation Foundation program that educates about wild animals, is partnering with municipalities across the province. Currently, they have a coordinator in Trail, Rossland and Castlegar but they are hoping to get an agreement with the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary, which will cover the Boundary area.
"We are always looking to partner with communities," said Frank Ritcey, provincial program coordinator for WildSafe BC.
A regional coordinator would interact with the community and become familiar with the area's needs and concerns. It would also be there job to go door-to-door in the community and provide education about wildlife that have crossed over into an urban environment. This could include urban deer or dealing with an aggressive predator.
The coordinator would also put on school programs that would educate students on wildlife-human interactions and provide safety training.
This type of personal interaction is ideal, especially in a community that needs help handling urban wildlife. WildSafe BC is able to provide education about wild animals but a coordinator would be able to help organize a program that would make all residents happy.
"You need the type of consensus that the whole community can work around," said Ritchey. "It doesn't work with only 60 or 70 per cent of people on board. What we are finding is that with 90 per cent consensus, it's still not there. The bears will still come into town for that 10 per cent that aren't on board."
A program coordinator would be able to work with the community to find a plan that everyone could get on board with. WildSafe BC doesn't actively look for community partners, but is happy to partner with municipalities that contact them.
The British Columbia Conservation Foundation may be best known for their “Bear Aware” program. This year they are merging the program into a new program that will include all wild animals living near urban areas in BC.
The program, called WildSafe BC, aims to reduce human and wildlife conflict through education, innovation and cooperation, they said in a recent press release.
It’s a program that local wildlife enthusiasts are happy to embrace.
“It’s wicked exciting,” said Jenny Coleshill, project coordinator for the Granby Wilderness Society.” I’m hoping it’s going to be a shared thing where both the regional district and the Grand Forks city are involved.”
One of the reasons Coleshill is a fan of the project is because it is neutral organization.
“They don’t say either way if an animal should be killed or protected,” she said. “They just educate. They tell you what an animal does and what their natural habitat is.”
The program will focus specifically on animals that have conflict with people in an urban setting.
For people in Grand Forks, urban deer would be a key topic, but surrounding communities also deal with predators that wander into people’s yards or kill agricultural animals.
“There was a little dog taken by a coyote about three weeks ago,” said Coleshill, of wildlife conflicts in the Boundary area. “And about a month ago there were a few lambs killed. They think it might have been a bobcat.”
Part of the program will include a Wildlife Alert and Reporting Program (WARP) that will show the number of wildlife sightings each week in any given area. The map can be seen at http://www.wildsafebc.com/WARP.
Anyone that wants to know more can join the WildSafebc Facebook page or email email@example.com.