How to report wildlife sightings, encounters or emergencies

bear family from fernieAlthough there have been no recent reported wildlife sighting’s it doesn’t mean that wildlife isn’t around. The Elk Valley is wildlife country. Be prepared and expect to encounter wildlife anytime and know how to respond to encounters and prevent conflict. There were a number of grizzly bear and moose sightings reported on the Lazy Lizard trail and area in Mt Fernie Provincial Park last week. Bears may have moved on or were not seen or reported recently.

We don’t have authority to put signage on trails in the backcountry and/or close trails. Human/wildlife conflict such as wildlife showing aggressive/defensive behaviour, stalking and bluff charges must be reported to the Conservation Officer Service who will then take the appropriate course of action. If you have sightings to report on trails to share with other trail user’s thank you for posting a message on the WildSafeBC Elk Valley Facebook page or emailing fernie@wildsafebc.com.

We live in wildlife habitat. Be aware of your surroundings and respectful of the environment. If you observed dangerous wildlife

  • accessing garbage or other human supplied food sources
  • that cannot be scared off
  • a bear, cougar or wolf seen in an urban area

Call the Conservation Officer Service Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) 24 hr hotline on 1-877-952-7277. This allows officers to identify current hot spot locations and work with both residents and wildlife to encourage use of natural habitats and food sources before wildlife becomes habituated and/or a safety concern.

For more information on keeping communities’ safe and wildlife wild please visit www.wildsafebc.com, or follow us on Facebook WildSafeBC Elk Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily grizzly bear sightings on Lazy Lizard Trail in Fernie

Monday June 6.  There have been a number of mountain bikers reporting grizzly bear sightings on Lazy Lizard trail in Mount Fernie Provincial Park.  The safest encounter is one prevented. Make noise to warn bears of your presence.  Bikers, your speed and quietness put you at greater risk for sudden encounters and surprising bears at close range which may provoke defensive behaviour.

For more information on bear safety go to www.wildsafebc.com

A proposed solution to Fernie’s garbage problem

dumpster fernie RVresort67% of calls made to the Conservation Officer Service in Fernie between 2013 and 2016, 69% in BC, cite garbage as the bear attractant when noted. Again this spring, bears are baited into town with garbage in the backyard, under the carport, on the deck and causing property damage. This eventually turned into a public safety issue resulting in the death of a bear at the Fernie mobile home park on May 20th. Let’s not forget the defensive bear encounter that occurred on Pine Avenue last March at 4 am. It’s easy to blame someone else, the Conservation Officer who has to pull the trigger, but really every person baiting bears into the neighborhood (with garbage outside between collection days ) is to blame.

I have been asked to work with the City of Fernie to come up with cost effective, achievable solutions to reduce the amount of garbage accessible to wildlife. It is unrealistic to expect that one solution will work for everyone and eradicate human/wildlife conflict altogether. If it was entirely up to me, I would recommend a centralized garbage compactor where there is no curbside collection and everyone takes their household garbage to one place, like in Whistler. This might be a bit drastic for Fernie as many residents enjoy the convenience of curbside collection.

Another option is the bear resistant residential carts. The carts are owned by the district and provided to all residences across the community. This system has proven effective in Squamish and has recently been adopted in Castlegar.

Benefits: Enables everyone to store garbage in a bear resistant container therefore reducing the amount of garbage accessible to bears.

Challenges: It encourages people to keep garbage outdoors. The carts are large and somewhat cumbersome therefore people who previously kept garbage indoors are likely to now leave it outdoors. People may forget to do up the clasps.   Clasps may not work very well in our freeze thaw climate. This system requires a fully automated collection truck. Carts used must be certified bear resistant; otherwise bears will learn to break into them. The cost to convert to this system may be in excess of $500 000, that means an approximate increase of %10 in taxes.

An important step in keeping the City of Fernie safe for wildlife and people is to remove barriers and enable residents to conveniently dispose of excess garbage between collection days twenty four hours a day.   I am confident that if the City of Fernie is seen to be leading by example, it is reasonable to expect that businesses and residents are more likely to make responsible choices and comply with CONSOLIDATED WASTE REGULATION & REGULATION BYLAW NO.1845.

How about providing residents with a means of conveniently disposing of excess garbage between collection days twenty four hours a day? This involves having front loading, user friendly certified bear resistant communal dumpsters in convenient public locations in designated areas managed by the City of Fernie. To start, two dumpsters, one for the facility and one for public use at city hall, the aquatic centre, community centre/arena and Max Turyk. Eventually, additional dumpsters could be provided in other convenient neighborhood locations.

I am confident that this initiative will enable residents to dispose of garbage responsibly between collection days, especially those who have no garage to store garbage securely.   This is also a reasonable option for people who miss garbage day, shift workers, people leaving town and second home owners. Storage of garbage under carports, on porches and in backyards between collection days is the root cause of human/wildlife conflict in Fernie and other communities in BC.

If residents are given reasonable means to dispose of garbage responsibly but choose not to do so then power of enforcement should be applied in accordance with CONSOLIDATED WASTE REGULATION & REGULATION BYLAW NO.1845. Feeding wildlife by intent or neglect is an offence in BC.   A combination of the City of Fernie leading by example, providing residents with reasonable means of disposing of garbage twenty four hours a day, education and power of enforcement should result in a cleaner and safer community and reduce the number of bears needlessly destroyed.

I will be presenting a structured plan designed to implement cost effective, achievable solutions to reduce the amount of garbage available to wildlife at the committee of the whole meeting at City Hall in Fernie at 10 am on June 13th. As a resident of Fernie your input is highly valuable, come along and show your support.

For more information contact fernie@wildsafebc.com

 

 

 

Why aren’t people feeding wildlife getting fined?

Many people ask me “why aren’t people attracting bears with unsecured garbage getting fines?’ My reply to this is “if you know of someone who attracting bears or other wildlife to your neighborhood and jeopardizing your safety report them to the Bylaw Officer”. Their duty is to respond to complaints and complaints remain anonymous.  I am hopeful that education supported by power of enforcement will result in a cleaner and safer community for all of us and fewer bears destroyed.

The City of Fernie, District of Sparwood and District of Elkford all have bylaws prohibiting the provision of food to wildlife and it is an offence in BC to feed wildlife by intent or neglect as per the Wildlife Act.  For all of us who have had the good fortune of calling the Elk Valley home for a long time, let’s remember to lead by example and ensure that we are not baiting bears onto our property with garbage under the carport, on the deck or in the backyard and that we are complying with local bylaws.

For more information on wildlife safety visit www.wildsafebc.comBear_Garbage_Can

Columbia BasinAlliance for Literacy learning about wildlife Safety

As a WildSafeBC Community Coordinator the highlight of my job is the opportunity to teach people about wildlife biology and safety,  Thank you to the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) and the Columbia Basin Trust for a great morning working with newcomers to Fernie from Peru, Tanzania, The Philippines and Thailand.

To book a presentation for your group contact fernie@wildsafebc.com  cbal

 

 

Moose and calf sightings in Annex Park and Mt Fernie Provincial Park

Tuesday May 24.  It is calving season for moose and deer.  Moose and deer can be especially aggressive as they protect their young.  Moose and their calves have been reported by the duck pond in the Annex Park and by the campground in Mt Fernie Provincial Park.

Moose are wild animals and need to be given space and privacy. Stay safe by keeping an appropriate distance. Use caution when walking dogs, keep them under voice control and/or leash. Dogs chasing wildlife may result in human/wildlife conflict.

For more information on preventing human/wildlife conflict go to www.wildsafebc.com

Grizzly bear sightings on Mt Fernie Provincial Park Trails

Monday May 23rd.  Grizzly bear sightings have been reported on Lazy Lizard trail by the Project 9 intersection.  Moose sightings also reported in many areas and black bear sightings on Montane Trail the last few days.

Fernie is Wildlife Country

The Safest Wildlife Encounter is One Prevented

Avoid surprise encounters: Call out, clap your hands, sing or talk loudly

Look for signs of wildlife: Tracks, droppings, diggings, claw-marked trees, torn-up logs, overturned rocks and food caches.

Travel smart: Stay in groups, stay on marked trails and travel in daylight.

Do not litter: Pack it in, pack it out.

Carry bear spray: Keep it accessible and know how to use it as your last best defense.

Dog owners: keep your dogs under control. They may provoke defensive behavior in wildlife.

Cyclists: speed and quietness put you at risk for sudden encounters. Slow down and make noise.

Never Approach or Feed Wildlife

If you encounter a Bear:

  • STAY CALM
  • DO NOT RUN
  • Let the bear know you are human (arms out to side)
  • Use your voice in a calm, assertive manner.
  • Back away slowly and allow the bear an escape route
  • Never turn your back on wildlife
  • Do not approach or feed wildlife

If you encounter a Cougar:

  • STAY CALM, DO NOT RUN, MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT
  • Pick up small children and small pets
  • Let the Cougar know you are human-NOT prey
  • Make yourself as large and as mean as possible
  • Use your voice in a loud and assertive manner
  • Back away slowly. Never turn your back on wildlife
  • If the Cougar attacks, fight back with everything that you’ve got, it is a predatory attack

Never Approach or Feed Wildlife

Report human/wildlife conflict to 1-877-952-7277(RAPP) or #7277 on cell.

For more information on preventing human/wildlife conflict visit www.wildsafebc.com

 

 

 grizzly print

Bear sightings reported on Slalom Drive in Fernie

Wednesday May 18.  Bear sightings have been reported on Slalom Drive in Fernie the last few days.  Garbage left outdoors between collection days, under the carport, in the back yard or on the front porch is the root cause of human wildlife conflict and is against the law in most BC communities.

Please make every effort to be a good steward of our beautiful environment by keeping garbage indoors between collection days and inaccessible to bears.  Help your family and friends do the same.

Securing garbage, cleaning BBQ’s, managing fruit trees and other attractants is the single best way to keep people safe, prevent property damage and avoid the unnecessary killing of bears that come into conflict with people.

Thank you for helping keep wildlife wild and our community safe.bear family from fernie

Moose sightings reported in Fernie parks

Thursday May 12.  Moose sightings have been reported in James White Park and in West Fernie.  Bear sightings were also reported in Fernie earlier in the week on Mt Minton and Elkview Crescent but no sightings reported the last few days.

Moose Safety Tips

Moose are wild animals and need to be given space and privacy. Stay safe by keeping an appropriate distance. Moose are not normally aggressive but can be very dangerous if approached or startled, especially females with calves. Given the sheer size and strength of these animals, moose are capable of inflicting serious injuries.

  • Never approach a moose. Give the animals a wide berth and ensure they have an escape route.
  • If a moose does charge you, getting inside a nearby building or car is the safest option, but hiding behind a large tree or other solid object may effectively block the charge.
  • Moose will attack dogs as they view them in the same category as their natural predator, the wolf. Keep your dog leashed if moose are in the area.
  • Perhaps the biggest threat that moose pose to human safety is through vehicle collisions. Protect yourself by adjusting your speed in areas where moose are known to frequent especially between dusk and dawn.

For more information on wildlife safety visit www.wildsafebc.commoose by klyde

 

No reported bear sightings since March. Let’s keep it that way!

April 24th.  elkford brown bearsThere have been no reported bear sightings in Elk Valley and South Country communities since an incident involving a Fernie resident and a small black bear at 4 am on Pine avenue in March. Bears have started to emerge from their dens and will move great distances in search of newly greening plant growth, carcasses melting out of the snow and other potential food sources.

Bears are frequently drawn into residential neighborhoods by the promise of garbage and other attractants. Spring is the best opportunity we have to prevent bears from learning bad habits by ensuring that our properties are free of attractants (unsecured garbage, dirty BBQ’s and bird feeders).   If bears get the upper hand early by feeding in our back yards, it will be hard to make them wild again.

The seasonal WildSafeBC program has come out of hibernation and is planning a variety of educational programs and activities including: wildlife safety presentations, how to use bear spray, displays at community events and weekly media updates in local papers and radio. For up to date wildlife sightings and safety tips follow us on Facebook, WildSafeBC Elk Valley, visit www.wildsafebc.com or contact the community coordinator on fernie@wildsafebc.com to book a presentation for your group or if you have any concerns about keeping wildlife wild and communities safe.

Remember that keeping garbage stored indoors until collection day and securing wildlife attractants is the best way to keep people safe, prevent property damage, and avoid the unnecessary killing of bears that come into conflict with people.