Communities to be mindful of wildlife as spring approaches

‘Always be aware of your surroundings and watch for signs of wildlife’

WildSafeBC is encouraging communities to consider wildlife when it comes to their homes and outdoor activities.

While the warm weather brings out local hikers, it also brings out local wildlife.

Provincial WildSafeBC Coordinator, Vanessa Isnardy, said spring is an active time of year for animals.

“Always be aware of your surroundings and watch for signs of wildlife,” she said. “Look for things such as fresh scat, turned over logs or scratch marks on trees.”

While hiking trails, a person should let wildlife know they are in the area by making noise. Isnardy said more than 50 per cent of black bear attacks have involved dogs. It might be smarter to keep them on a leash – allowing a dog to chase a bear, runs a risk of the bear coming back.

“We recommend carrying bear spray that you can access and deploy quickly. It’s like a seat belt, you may never need it but you will be happy to have it, if you do,” she said.

Cougars account for approximately 2,500 calls to the Conservation Officer Service reporting line, every year. When hiking, it’s better to hike in pairs or groups. From time to time, cougars may show up in urban areas. It’s suggested at night to keep your pets indoors.

Garbage is one of the main attractants for black bears. It accounts for 60 per cent of calls regarding bears. For homeowners, it might be a good time to make sure your garbage is being stored securely so it’s inaccessible to animals.

“Bear sightings vary region to region, but most bears come out in April,” she said. “The males come out first and then the sows with their cubs. They are usually looking for fresh vegetation that is easier to digest, higher in nutrients and protein.”

Homes that have beehives and livestock, can consider protecting those areas with electric fencing. For bird feeders, it’s suggested to have them 10 ft. above the ground and 10 ft. from the home.

Isnardy said one kilogram of birdseed can have nearly 8,000 calories – which can attract bears and other wildlife.

“The seed on the ground will attract rodents, which may lure wildlife onto your property,” she said.

Tips for encountering a bear:

– Make loud noises

– Avoid eye contact

– Back away slowly, don’t run or turn your back

– Make loud noises

Tips for encountering a cougar:

– Make yourself look big

– Maintain eye contact

– Speak in a stern voice

– Don’t run

– Always fight off an attack

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