Powell River’s WildSafeBC program is up and running for the 2019 season. Its new coordinator, Evelyn Kirkaldy, moved to the region last year from the Kootenays, where she had been educating on bear safety for many years.
“I live in Wildwood now, and I have never lived anywhere where there are so many bears,” said Kirkaldy.
WildSafeBC works to prevent conflict with wildlife through education and community programs. It is delivered by the not-for-profit BC Conservation Foundation in communities around the province. Kirkaldy will be working in the region from July to November 30.
“We work to prevent conflict with wildlife and we do it through education and collaboration to help keep wildlife wild and the community safe,” she said.
Her community work will take her to local events including Powell River Farmers’ Market as well as school programs.
“Once school is back in I’m going to be doing the WildSafe Ranger Program, so we’ll be getting in touch with local teachers and going into the schools,” said Kirkaldy. “We can start the kids off young educating them about wildlife.”
One of the main points Kirkaldy stresses in keeping wildlife safe is reducing the number of attractants near homes, especially garbage. The best practice is to store all garbage and recycling indoors or have it securely stored in a bear-resistant container outside, she said.
“We want people to put their garage out as close to pickup time as possible,” she added. “Bears learn very quickly where they can find garbage.”
As part of its educational program, WildSafeBC will do periodic garbage tagging the evening before garbage pickup.
“We will be tagging bins that are set out too early as a friendly reminder to keep bins in until morning; it is not only bears that are attracted to garbage,” said Kirkaldy. “There are many other types of wildlife here. The same thing that can attract rats and deer can attract bears, so managing attractants can help all kinds of wildlife and keep people safe.”
For more information, go to wildsafebc.com, follow WildSafeBC qathet Regional Districton Facebook, or contact Kirkaldy at email@example.com or 604.413.4059.
Residents can also report bear, cougar, coyote or wolf sightings in urban areas to WildSafeBC’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program at wildsafebc.com/warp. The website informs people about wildlife reported in their area.