It was a busy year for Wildsafe BC’s program in both Kimberley and Cranbrook in 2015. Program coordinator Sonya Seher delivered educational programs in schools, did media outreach and public presentations. She also did a little spy work, tagging garbage bags at homes where residents were not obeying garbage bylaws.
It was also a year where human wildlife encounters were on the rise, Seher noted in a draft report to Kimberley City Council.
Because of a poor berry crop, bear activity was up in both communities, especially Cranbrook. There were also more reports of aggressive mule deer does in Kimberley in the spring and summer than in the previous year.
2015 was the first year for WildSafeBC’s Junior Rangers Program. In Kimberley-Cranbrook, this program built on existing school presentations by championing students to take action on wildlife attractants around their home, and to be ambassadors for recreating safety in town and in the backcountry. Participating classes at Cranbrook’s Gordon Terrace Elementary (grade 4) and Kimberley’s Lindsay Park Elementary (grade 3) received two presentations (Bears, Predators/Ungulates) with interactive games and activities, and completed a bear-safe home checklist.
Seher reports that the program was well received and more teachers have requested it for next year. Grade 4 students proved to be the programs best audience: the students were old enough to receive the material well, but young enough to appreciate the prizes received, she noted.
As for human wildlife conflict, the message remains the same — garbage continues to be the major problem in attracting wildlife.
For 2016, Seher has suggested an earlier start to the program. She notes that in 2015, bears were being reported in early April and by May, a number were already habituated to human food sources.
Seher also reports she had numerous calls from people in the rural areas C and E requesting program support, mostly around issues with grizzlies and badgers.
Currently, the cities of Kimberley and Cranbrook are the support for the program. If the RDEK stepped in, the program could be delivered to rural areas as well. Seher will be working on securing RDEK funding in 2016.