September is historically a month when human-bear conflicts are at their highest, according to provincial conservation foundation WildSafeBC. With that in mind the not-for-profit group is working to raise awareness with its fourth annual BC Goes Wild campaign.
Locally, community coordinator Evelyn Kirkaldy will be hosting events at the WildSafeBC booth at Powell River Farmers’ Agricultural Institute’s Fall Fair. The event takes place from noon to 5 pm this Saturday and Sunday, September 7 and 8, at 4365 McLeod Road.
A key piece of information Kirkaldy hopes to convey is how to properly use bear spray.
“It would be great for people to check out the bear spray demonstration because a lot of people aren't clear on how to use it properly, and that’s really important,” she added. “Bear spray has been proven 90 per cent effective but if people know how to use it properly perhaps that number could be higher.”
Along with plenty of educational opportunities on wildlife safety, people of all ages can measure how tall they are compared to a boar, sow, cub and coy on a life-size bear chart and make crafts, said Kirkaldy.
“I have some fabulous wildlife crafts including images of a polar bear, black bear and a grizzly bear,” she added. “Kids can colour them in and mount them up and make little masks, and I’ll talk to them about the three species of bears we have in Canada.”
Reaching youth is vital in educating the greater community about wildlife safety, according to Kirkaldy, and a junior ranger program is set to take place in local schools this fall.
“We’ll have presentations from grades kindergarten to six,” said Kirkaldy. “It will be introducing students to the concept of human/wildlife conflict and it’s meant to encourage them to take an active role in reducing conflict at home by helping their families to identify backyard wildlife attractants.”
Powell River residents have reported bear sightings in the Duck Lake/Deighton Road area, in Wildwood on Columbia Street and near École Côte du Soleil in Westview over the last few days.
The local WildSafeBC program is supported by funding from qathet Regional District, Powell River Community Forest, BC Conservation Foundation and BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.