Elk Valley Bear Aware

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Preventing human-bear conflicts in Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford and the South Country
Updated: 1 hour 50 min ago

Wildlife accessing garbage and human caused wildlife mortality show a decreasing trend in our communities.

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 12:26

Elk Valley communities have taken a big step forward and have been setting a precedent for other mountain communities when it comes to reducing human/wildlife conflict.  The residential certified bear resistant carts in Sparwood, the gravity locking carts and communal bear resistant dumpsters in Fernie and bear resistant carts available for Elkford residents have reduced the amount of wind strewn litter and garbage accessible to wildlife and enabled residents to manage household garbage responsibly.  There is no curbside garbage collection in the South Country where residents keep garbage indoors until they take it to the transfer station.

Overall, the number of Problem Wildlife Occurrence Reports (PWOR’s) citing bears accessing garbage has been lower in residential areas the last few years and wildlife destroyed due to concerns for human safety in the Elk Valley and South Country has decreased considerably.  Human caused mortality has gone from:  33 black bears, 1 grizzly bear and 1 cougar destroyed in 2015, 5 black bears in 2016, 2 grizzly bears destroyed by residents in defence of property, 2 cougars, 5 black bears and 1 grizzly bear destroyed in 2017, 1 injured black bear destroyed for humane reasons, 1 cougar, 1 grizzly bear and 1 black bear destroyed to date in 2018.  This decrease in human caused wildlife mortality can be attributed to increased awareness regarding the management of wildlife attractants, less garbage accessible to wildlife with upgraded garbage collection systems in communities and a good berry crop.

There has been an increase in human/wildlife conflict in recreational areas.  A child was attacked by a cougar while out on a family fishing trip and there were many reports of trail users getting bluff charged by black and grizzly bears and moose on Elk Valley trails.  An increase in trail and backcountry use, development, logging, more highway traffic and more people in wildlife habitat have all contributed to more human/wildlife encounters in the backcountry.

The South Country had a high level of grizzly bear activity between May and October which can be attributed to a number of factors including but not limited to:  a cold spring pushing bears into valley bottoms to look for emerging greenery, hot dry weather and smoke, a poor huckleberry crop at higher elevations and grizzly bears being drawn into valley bottoms accessing fruit trees, Saskatoon berries and livestock on their way to feed on the spawning Kokanee salmon.  To date this year one grizzly has been destroyed in Jaffray.

Thanks to ongoing support and valuable community partnerships, the WildSafeBC Program was well received.   The demand continues to increase throughout Elk Valley and South Country communities and is indicative of the program’s success.  The Junior Ranger program was delivered to 540 pre-school and school aged children, over 250 adults received wildlife awareness and bear spray training , 750 contacts were made at community events, 70 000 people reached through local media and 38 000 reached through social media. Finally, thank you to everyone who has been a good neighbour by keeping garbage inaccessible to wildlife between collection days, cleaning up their fruit trees and helping their neighbours do the same.  Bears and other wildlife have huge home ranges, will travel great distances for food and don’t recognize political boundaries.   This collective effort has resulted in cleaner and safer communities for people and wildlife and a reduction in human caused wildlife mortality.  The WildSafeBC Program will be going into hibernation until May 2019.

Coexisting with Grizzly Bears Workshop, electric fending, grizzly bear safety and bear spray training, November 4, Jaffray Community Hall from 10 am to 1pm.

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 12:30

In response to a high level of grizzly bear activity in the South Country, WildSafeBC and Grizzly Bear Solutions will be cohosting a Grizzly Bear workshop at the Jaffray Community Hall on Sunday November 4th at 10 am free of charge.

Electric fencing workshop from 10 to 11:30 am.  Learn how to install and maintain electric fencing to protect your fruit trees, gardens, chickens and livestock from bears.   Cost sharing is available on your electric fencing for bears, contact grizzlybearsolutions@gmail.com

Grizzly bear safety and how to use bear spray at 11:30.  Learn more about grizzly bears and how to respond to wildlife encounters and get hands on experience using inert bear spray (like the real thing but without the sting of the pepper).  The safest wildlife encounter is one prevented.  Having bear spray accessible and knowing how to use it will give you the confidence to do the right thing (stay calm, assess the situation and respond accordingly) and not give in to the instinct to run (which can invoke the chase instinct).

For more information contact fernie@wildsafebc.com

Coexisting with Grizzly Bears Workshop, electric fending, grizzly bear safety and bear spray training, November 4, Jaffray Community Hall from 10 am to 1pm.

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 10:23

In response to a high level of grizzly bear activity in the South Country, WildSafeBC and Grizzly Bear Solutions will be cohosting a Grizzly Bear workshop at the Jaffray Community Hall on Sunday November 4th at 10 am free of charge.

Electric fencing workshop from 10 to 11:30 am.  Learn how to install and maintain electric fencing to protect your fruit trees, gardens, chickens and livestock from bears.   Cost sharing is available on your electric fencing for bears, contact grizzlybearsolutions@gmail.com

Grizzly bear safety and how to use bear spray at 11:30.  Learn more about grizzly bears and how to respond to wildlife encounters and get hands on experience using inert bear spray (like the real thing but without the sting of the pepper).  The safest wildlife encounter is one prevented.  Having bear spray accessible and knowing how to use it will give you the confidence to do the right thing (stay calm, assess the situation and respond accordingly) and not give in to the instinct to run (which can invoke the chase instinct).

For more information contact fernie@wildsafebc.com

Bear sightings on dike trail by Dogwood Park, Fernie and Grizzly bears in Jaffray and Tie Lake

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 09:42

Friday October 26.  Bears have been seen on 4th Avenue A and on the dike trail by Dogwood park in Fernie.  Grizzly bear sightings reported by the Tie Lake Transfer Station and knocking over empty garbage cans on Shelbourne road in Jaffray.  Remember, even an empty garbage is a visual cue and odors will attract bears.   Keep them indoors and away from  bears.

For more information on wildlife and safety go to www.wildsafebc.com

Bears on Park Crescent, James White Park and in West Fernie

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 13:04

Bear sightings have been reported in a backyard on Park Crescent, in James White Park and on the trail by the wetlands area in West Fernie.  So far this year the number of calls to the Conservation Officer Service has been low in residential areas, 45 reports for black bears in 2018, versus 157 in 2015.  To date this year one injured black bear was destroyed for humane reasons at Fernie Alpine Resort and one habituated cougar was destroyed in the City of Fernie.   This reduction in human/wildlife conflict can be attributed to a good berry crop, increased awareness regarding the management of wildlife attractants, a high bear mortality rate in 2015 and less garbage accessible to wildlife with the new automated wildlife resistant carts and bear resistant community dumpsters.

However, there was an increase in incidents between people and wildlife in recreational areas as trail and backcountry use continues to increase.  A child was attacked by a cougar in Morissey and there were many reports of mountain bikers getting bluff charged by grizzly bears on trails. More people and highway traffic, a noticeable increase in trail use, more visitors, unsecured garbage, unmanaged fruit trees and new developments all contribute to human/wildlife conflict.

Thanks for being a good neighbour by keeping your garbage carts indoors until day of collection, picking all fruit as soon as possible, assisting neighbours who may be unable to pick their fruit trees and securing anything else that might attract wildlife.  Consider removing fruit trees that you don’t plan to harvest and replace them with native non-fruit bearing trees.  The end result will be a safer and cleaner community for people and wildlife.

 

apple trees will attract bears to your yard

Cougar sightings at Fernie Alpine Resort and Grizzly bears in Jaffray and Hosmer

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 08:53

Wildlife update Monday October 15.

Fernie

A cougar was reported on Highline Drive by Lizard Creek Lodge late at night on the weekend.   If you see a cougar that is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target. Back out of the area and seek assistance or shelter. Call the Conservation Officer Service reporting line (1-877-952-7277) to report the incident.

Hosmer

Grizzly and black bears reported on properties on Stephenson road.

South Country

Grizzly bear sightings reported throughout Jaffray and Galloway.  Livestock and fruit trees are the main attractant in this area.

If you keep chickens, bees or small livestock, use a properly installed and maintained electric fence.  Store all feed in a secure location and ensure feeding areas are clean and free of attractants. Apples are a food source for bears.  Thanks for being a good neighbour and not putting your neighborhood in harm’s way by picking all fruit as soon as possible and assisting neighbours who may be unable to pick their fruit. Consider removing fruit trees and replacing them with native non-fruit bearing trees.

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

 

FJ Mitchell students in Sparwood learning about the new Bear Resistant Carts

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 09:04

Thanks to Kindergarten, Grade 2 and Grade 5 students and teachers at FJ Mitchell elementary in Sparwood.  I’m always so impressed with the knowledge and passion our kids have about wildlife.  I am counting on them to go home and educate their families about the benefits of the proper use of the new bear resistant garbage carts and the importance of preventing human/wildlife conflict at home.

Bears getting into garbage left out by the Montane Barn and grizzly bears in Jaffray

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 08:20

Passers-by reported bears accessing garbage left overnight by the Montane Barn in Fernie early Sunday morning.  Bears have now learned that garbage is an easy food source.  Expect them to return anytime and to start making their way into town from the outside perimeter.  Bear sightings have been reported in the park behind Riverside Drive in West Fernie.

Elkford

Bear sightings reported on Fording Drive.

South Country

Two families of grizzly bears have been reported accessing fruit trees throughout Jaffray.   WildSafeBC and the Conservation Officer Service have canvassed the area and requested property owners to clean up fruit trees.

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.

 

 

 

 

Bear sightings on the outside perimeter of Fernie and grizzly bear sighitngs in the South Country

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 10:41

Wildlife update Monday October 1.  Bear sightings have been reported on the Coal Discovery Trail just below Silveridge and on the dike trail by the golf course on the outside perimeter of Fernie.  There have been very few recent bear sightings in Fernie.   Let’s keep it that way.   It is much easier to keep human food and other attractants away from wildlife in the first place, than it is to teach bears, cougars, deer, skunks and rodents to stay away from unnatural food, such as garbage that they have learned to enjoy.

Bear sightings have been reported throughout the Montane Trail network and up by Castle Mountain.  A moose was reported on Deadfall earlier this week.  When you choose to recreate in the back country be prepared and expect to encounter wildlife anytime.  Wildlife, like people, will choose the path of least resistance and will cover great distances to forage for food.

South Country

Black and grizzly bear sightings have reported throughout the South Country, Jaffray, Rosen Lake, Tie Lake , Grassmere, Galloway and on the Jaffray Baynes Lk rd.  Protect small livestock with a properly maintained electric fence.

Store all feed in a secure location and ensure feeding areas are clean and free of wildlife attractants.  Hunters, thank you for disposing of carcasses responsibly, split them up, bag them and take them to the transfer station.

Thank you for keeping garbage in a garage, shed or indoors inaccessible to bears and other wildlife, cleaning up fruit trees and anything else that might attract wildlife.

For more information go to www.wildsafebc.com

 

 

 

What do you do if you see a bear? Ask a kindergarten student!

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 09:17

Thank you to all the students ad teachers I have worked with this past week at IDES, the Fernie Academy, Fernie and Sparwood Foreign Exchange students and Elkford High School.  I am always so impressed with the passion and knowledge our children have.  Even the 5 year olds know what to do if they see a bear or where to keep garbage between collection days.  Keep up the great work and thanks for helping educate our community on the importance of keeping wildlife wild and communities safe.

I look forward to working with Outdoor Connections Forest School, Bright Beginnings and Sparwood and Jaffray elementary next week.  If you would like to book a WildSafeBC presentation for your group please contact fernie@wildsafebc.com

The Elk Valley Homesteading Volunteers Picked Eight Truckloads of Apples in Fernie.

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 08:19

apple trees will attract bears to your yard

Wow, what a tremendous effort to feed families not bears!  Twenty five property owners in Fernie registered for assistance with fruit picking on four select days between late August and mid-September.  Many properties’ had up to four apple trees.  Fruit from 18 of the 30 trees was harvested; this added up to eight pick up truckloads of apples.  Four truck loads were used by volunteers to make pies, apple sauce, cider and juice, three were donated to farmers and one was taken to the transfer station.

Owning a fruit tree in bear country is a big responsibility.  Volunteer efforts were prioritized based on need.   Seniors, people with disabilities, location such as proximity to a school or park and properties on the outside perimeter of town.  Harvesting was scheduled when apples are ripe, softer translucent apples first followed by firm and crab apples.

Thank you to Rachel Dortman and Madeleine Bragg for spearheading this effort and to all of the volunteers, children and adults from across the Elk Valley who took part in this fruit picking initiative.  This is a big step in the right direction and a noticeable positive difference in the overall management of apple trees in Fernie.   Thank you everyone for helping keep our wonderful community safe for wildlife and people.

Unsecured garbage and unmanaged fruit trees are the root cause of human/wildlife conflict in BC communities.  Bears will pass through our yards; we chose to live in bear country!  It is important however, that the bear is not rewarded for being there.  When a bear gets food (garbage and apples) in your yard, it doesn’t know that your tolerance for bears is higher than your neighbours.  It learns that a house, lawn, bicycle and the faint smell of people comes with an easy meal.  It eats, learns and moves on.  Eventually it will find itself somewhere it is not welcome.  And when bears and humans are in conflict, the bear dies nearly every time.

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

 

 

 

A black bear had to be trapped then euthanized in Sparwood Heights over the weekend

Sun, 09/23/2018 - 14:17

A black bear has been reported accessing unsecured garbage and posing a threat to human safety in Sparwood Heights since the spring.   We, the people, contributed to the death of this bear by approaching it or feeding it, by intent or neglect with garbage left outdoors and apples on the tree or windfall fruit rotting on the ground!   Repeated exposure to people lead to the bear posing a threat to human safety and ultimately its death.

Why don’t we just move bears out of town so they can live in the forest?  The Conservation Officer Service used to regularly trap and relocate bears.  Then, in the late 1980’s this practice was questioned.  As a result, relocated bears were marked with an ear tag when they were released.  Some were radio collared and tracked.  Two things became apparent:

-The survival rate of relocated bears was very low.  The bears often fail to adapt to their new habitat and may starve to death or be killed by animals that already occupy the area.

-Most relocated bears were finding their way back into their original home territory or become “problem” animals in other communities.

Relocating bears is not a solution.  Keeping garbage stored indoors until collection day, cleaning up fruit trees 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.

for more information visit www.wildsafebc.com

secure the garbage and bears will move on

 

 

Black bear sightings reported on Fairy Creek Trail

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 12:11

Wednesday September 5.  A black bear was reported on the Fairy Creek by the cattleguard.

The safest wildlife encounter is one prevented. Your best defense is to be aware of wildlife in the area.

 Make Noise to avoid a surprise encounter (use your human voice, clap hands or two rocks together – especially near running water or in dense brush)

  • Carry a walking stick (adults can carry Bear Spray in a side holster)
  • Walk in groups
  • Keep dogs leashed and/or under voice control

     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

For more information on wildlife and safety go to www.wildsafebc.com

 

Congratulations to Sparwood who is providing residents with certified bear resistant carts.

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 07:18

Sparwood is taking a big step forward in mitigating human/wildlife conflict and setting a precedent for other rural BC communities by providing residents with certified bear resistant carts. 1700 certified bear resistant carts will be delivered to all residents in Sparwood this week with the new automated garbage collection system starting September 4th.  There is no such thing as a 100% bear proof container.  The carts are bear-resistant, reinforced with metal and latches,   meaning they have been designed and tested to make it difficult for bears to access the garbage inside.

When storing the garbage container, residents will need to ensure that their cart is locked and is in a secure and safe location as to prevent bears and other wildlife from removing or damaging the cart from private property. This can be done by storing the cart indoors in a secure location between collection days during bear season (April to November). In the rare case that they cannot be kept inside a building, both clips must be locked, and the cart may need to be chained to a secure anchor point such as a strong railing or post, so the bear cannot drag the cart away.

As always, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to prevent dangerous wildlife from access unnatural food on their property, (BC wildlife Act, Section 33.1). 

Learn how to use bear spray. Tonight, August 29th, 6pm Fernie Bike Park Gazebo

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 08:27

Are you an avid hiker or mountain biker?  Do you have bear spray accessible and how confident are you if you need to use it?  WildSafeBC will be running a “how to safely use bear spray” session tonight, August 29th at 6pm at the Bike Park Gazebo behind the aquatic centre in Fernie, free of charge.  This is a great opportunity to come and get hands on practice with inert bear spray (bear spray without the pepper).

For more information contact fernie@wildsafebc.com

Recent cougar attack and cougars in Fernie. We live in wildlife country, read on to learn more about cougars.

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 08:43

A 4 year old was attacked by a cougar a few weeks ago and a cougar had to be destroyed in Fernie a few nights ago.  We have chosen to live in wildlife country and should be prepared to encounter wildlife anytime and understand wildlife behavior.

Cougars are wide ranging animals and may show up in urban settings from time to time. If they are passing through it is important they do not find food that may encourage them to stay.  Many urban incidents occur with young cougars that have not yet learned how to hunt effectively or older animals that can no longer hunt in the wilds.

  • Feed pets indoors and keep pets indoors, especially at night. Cats and small dogs that are left to free-range, hunt small birds and rodents and, in turn, become prey themselves.
  • Never feed deer or other possible prey species for cougars. While deer may be pleasant to watch, they can attract large predators such as cougars into residential neighborhoods. As well, urban deer present their own set of problems to you and your neighbors.
  • Cougars are most active during the period from dusk until dawn

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 or #7277 on cell.

Thank you to Elk Valley Homesteading Volunteers who picked two truck loads of apples in Fernie.

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 09:19

Feed families and livestock, not bears.! The fruit picked by the volunteers was given to families and to farmers to feed livestock as opposed to ending up in the landfill or as an easy food source baiting bears into town.

Do you need help with your apples?  There are resources.  If you are unable to manage your fruit tree due to disability, illness, you are elderly and need assistance picking the fruit, contact:  Rachel Dortman 1-250-423-8665, Facebook: Elk Valley Homesteading.

Wildsight in Fernie has the Apple Capture tree sharing program and equipment available to lend: fruit picking and tree pruning equipment, apple presses, dehydrators, sauce makers, etc.   Call: 1-250-423-3322, elkvalley@wildsight.ca, http://www.wildsight.ca/branches/elkvalley/

Owning a fruit tree in bear country is a big responsibility! Fruit needs to be picked daily as it ripens and not allowed to accumulate on the ground is important. Pruning your fruit tree will result in a better and more manageable quality of fruit.  Other options are removing the fruiting tree and replacing it with a native non fruit bearing tree.

 

Learn how to use bear spray. Wednesday August 29th, 6pm Fernie Bike Park Gazebo

Fri, 08/24/2018 - 09:40

Are you an avid hiker or mountain biker?  Do you have bear spray accessible and how confident are you if you need to use it?  WildSafeBC will be running a “how to safely use bear spray” session on Wednesday August 29th at 6pm at the Bike Park Gazebo behind the aquatic centre in Fernie, free of charge.  This is a great opportunity to come and get hands on practice with inert bear spray (bear spray without the pepper).

For more information contact fernie@wildsafebc.com

Someone dumped windfall crab-apples along 4th avenue A, just above the boat launch in Fernie

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 15:27

This happens every year where people feed bears and use easily accessible areas or popular back country recreational areas as a dumping ground. We encourage people not to feed bears or attract them to our neighborhoods and recreational areas. How about trying to find a farmer and sharing this bounty or taking unwanted fruit directly to the transfer station and disposing of it responsibly.

Owning a fruit tree in bear country is a big responsibility! Fruit needs to be picked daily as it ripens and not allowed to accumulate on the ground is important. Pruning your fruit tree will result in a better and more manageable quality of fruit.  Other options are removing the fruiting tree and replacing it with a native non fruit bearing tree.

Do you need help with your apples?  There are resources.  Contact Wildsight Fernie Branch Facebook: Fernie Apple Capture tree sharing. -Available to lend: fruit picking and tree pruning equipment, apple presses, dehydrators, sauce makers, etc.   Call: 1-250-423-3322, elkvalley@wildsight.ca, http://www.wildsight.ca/branches/elkvalley/

If you are unable to manage your fruit tree due to disability, illness, you are elderly and need assistance picking the fruit, contact:  Rachel Dortman 1-250-423-8665, Facebook: Elk Valley Homesteading.

 

Cougar sighting reported on Blue Matador trail last night

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 09:15

Tuesday August 21.  A large cougar was reported by mountain bikers on the Blue Matador Trail last night.  Cougar Safety Tips:  Attacks by cougar are rare but can be fatal, especially if young children are involved. In all cases you must fight back as cougar attacks are always predatory and the cougar sees you as a meal. Use rocks, sticks or whatever you have at hand to protect yourself. If you see a cougar that is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice. Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target. Back out of the area and seek assistance or shelter. Bear spray can be used as ytour ;ast best defence on cougars.

Call the Conservation Officer Service reporting line (1-877-952-7277) to report cougar sightings and incidents.

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