A group called the 108 Mile Ranch Wildlife Safety has sprung up in the aftermath of human to bear conflict in the area and aim to educate the community in living together with wildlife peacefully.
“We had a lot of conflicts in this community with black bears going into hibernation and there are proven ways to reduce that. We are looking at best practices from other communities looking for what works best for 108 Mile,” said Shelby Raymond, the founder of the group. ”It doesn’t have to be this way, we can do better. We all choose to live here in this beautiful place that has a lot of wildlife.”
Raymond created the group on Facebook on Sept. 24 of this year. As of Nov. 13, the group has 450 members.
The group had its first meeting on Nov. 7 at the A&W meeting room in 100 Mile House, where six people attended including Raymond and Cariboo Regional Director (CRD) of Area G Al Richmond.
“Right now, we have a team looking at our garbage cans provided by the CRD. Al Richmond and Tera Grady, she is the solid waste coordinator for the CRD, got us a can we can experiment on to try different solutions to make them more bear-resistant,” said Raymond.
She said you can’t really bear-proof anything but are looking to slow them down or deter bears from looking for quick easy food in the form of attractants in the garbage of residences.
According to BC Wildlife, garbage was the main attractant for black bears in 2014 to 2017 with conservation officers receiving 18,385 calls. The next one was livestock, which only had 1,876 calls.
“That creates problems for people because if they startle a bear that’s eating or if a bear decides to guard like they would a carcass we have a potential for an attack and we want nobody to have that happen,” said Raymond.
According to her and the minutes of the meeting, volunteer Eivind Hestdalen has been in touch with the manufacturer of the CRD garbage cans.
The CRD provided him with images of research they have done for modifying the cans to become more bear-resistant.
Raymond and the group have also been looking at other communities such as Coquitlam who use straps on their cans to find a viable solution.
“If you look at Coquitlam, they did within their own refuse department, they designed a latch for their cans and a bar strap that goes across the top. I believe they have reduced the number of bears that had to be killed by 60 per cent, just by implementing that little lock.”
The group doesn’t only focus on black bears but all animals.
Raymond spoke about the legality (it is, however, illegal to feed predators) of feeding deer and how it can be problematic and how conservation officers sometimes have to put down deer because of infections and other problems associated with food fed to them. Feeding them also brings predators into the community.
Raymond cited an example of a coyote who chased a deer into her property to make her point.
Another point was reminding people that deer can become violent and could gore dogs.
The group will also be looking into bringing in educational programs, such as the BC WildSafe.
The group is holding another meeting on Dec. 7 at the 108 Mile Community Centre at 6 p.m.