At a regular City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, Danica Roussy of WildSafeBC presented the WildSafeBC Year End Report.
Roussy says that overall, the Kimberley-Cranbrook area experienced less human-wildlife conflict compared to the previous three years.
“Part of this decrease is attributed to the extreme weather conditions; an extremely hot summer in 2017 compared to 2016,” said Roussy.
In Kimberley, a total of 189 wildlife reports were made this year through WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP) on their website. Cranbrook reported 270 wildlife encounters through the WARP program as well. A report can include a sighting, an injured animal, a distressed animal, an encounter; not necessarily a conflict says Roussy.
Roussy says that of those 189 reports in Kimberley, 44 were black bears, 15 grizzlies, seven elk, three cougars, one coyote and 117 deer.
“This area is known to have quite the urban deer problem,” said Roussy, “which gives us (WildSafeBC) a few challenges. Fruit trees were a constant challenge as the fruit began to ripen early this year.”
Roussy says fruit trees are particularly hard to manage in Kimberley due to rental units and vacation homes, whose owners are not always present.
“Fortunately, the local apple gleaning group, Apple Capture (Wildsight), tackled some trees on vacant land or on people’s properties that rely on those services,” Roussy said.
Other challenges, says Roussy, were unsecured garbage bins and aggressive deer.
“Unsecured garbage bins are a big challenge in areas with lower income housing, houses without garbage infrastructure and areas without communal dumpsters to manage local attractants,” said Roussy.
The City’s purchase of a new garbage truck and bins will help to mitigate the unsecured garbage issue, Roussy says.
With regards to aggressive deer, Roussy says this year was a highly active season for bucks.
“Challenges that arose in Kimberley this year include bucks ramming into parked vehicles to prepare for rutting season and removing velvet from antlers, as well as aggressive does with fawns near school yards,” explained Roussy.
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At the Council meeting, Councillor Albert Hoglund asked Roussy about two bear cubs that have been identified as abandoned in Marysville.
Roussy says that she is aware of the orphaned cubs, however the highest priority calls (such as the abandoned cubs) go directly to the Conservation Officers who deal with it from there.
City Chief Administrative Officer, Scott Sommerville says he had two bears in his front yard recently.
“I was kind of surprised because you don’t usually see them when the snow is out,” said Sommerville.
Roussy says that there could be some different behaviour with the early snow.
“The phase where they are just bulking up for hibernation was a little bit shortened [this year], so the bears are pretty much in scatter mode. They are looking for their last bit of 20,000 calories a day. They’ll being going up to the higher elevations in seek of shelter quite soon, ” Roussy said. “Actually, bears can come out in the winter, they are only 60 per cent in hibernation. It doesn’t surprise me at all, I just saw one up in Lois Creek today (Tuesday).”
Part of Roussy’s job is to educate Kimberley and Cranbrook not only on bear attractants, but all wildlife attractants and how to keep wildlife and communities safe and in harmony. This year, WildSafeBC created new partnerships, hosted the Junior Ranger Program, delivered educational presentations to schools in SD6, went to events, held the BC Goes Wild Weekend, participated in garbage tagging to help enforce bylaws and conducted door-to-door visits to encourage responsible attractant management.
Roussy says that WildSafeBC’s goals for 2018 are to secure additional funding, encourage the City of Kimberley staff to enforce local bylaws as well as improve/update them to include consideration of wildlife attractant management, complete bear hazard assessments in Kimberley to develop the Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan, and work with local land and property owners to better implement attractant management strategies.
To find out more information on WildSafeBC contact Roussy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the WildSafeBC website.