WildSafe BC is nearing the end of its season and most bears are now enjoying a long winter’s nap denned up within the valley or in the alpine beyond.
Once again WildSafeBC/Bear Aware had an active year assisting the community on several bear issues. New to the program the year was a mandate that addressed issues related to all wildlife. The expanded focus of WildSafeBC included attractant management to reduce conflict with bears, deer, cougar and wolves just to name a few. However, due to high concentration, bears will remain the primary focus when it comes to the conflict management spotlight for the WildSafeBC/Bear Aware program for the Bella Coola Valley.
As a personal highlight, I enjoyed providing presentations on co-existence in the three local schools. The adults and students who attended these presentations were very engaging and had great questions. The level of interest opened up relevant conversation and discussions on both controversial and non-controversial issues affecting the community and its wildlife. Overall we learned from each other and therefore built on this program for next year.
In previous years, the Bella Coola Bear Aware program, alongside the Bella Coola Bear Working Group, combined their efforts to organize electric fencing clinics for the valley residents attempting to find solutions to bear presence and property damage. Building on the success of the educational aspect of those years, in 2013 a new initiative was introduced by the Bella Coola Bear Working Group and implemented by the community Bear Aware Coordinator.
Electric fencing was made available on loan to residents interested in securing attractants on their properties (such as fruit trees and gardens) from meandering bears. As a pilot project this year, it is a work in progress. With Valley resident adoption and the ongoing education supporting electric fencing, this wildlife conflict management initiative is proving to work in assisting the needs of this small agricultural community.
As the Bella Coola WildSafeBC Community Coordinator, I would like to thank the Conservation Officer Service, RCMP, the Chief and Council of the Nuxalk Nation, the Central Coast Regional District and the valley residents for their assistance and cooperation in once again moving the Bear Aware/WildSafeBC program forward. I would like to send a special thanks to the community members who have bravely embraced positive change for wildlife and their community. For those interested, the WildSafeBC Annual Report is available upon request.