Wild Wise has branched out into Metchosin and Colwood and is looking to expand to Shawnigan and the Cowichan Valley. (Contributed Wild Wise Sooke)

Wild Wise expands into West Shore, reminds residents to be bear aware

Increase in bear, cougar sightings common for springtime

Wild Wise, a community-based education program designed to reduce human and wildlife conflict has branched out to West Shore communities and is reminding residents to be wildlife-aware as the spring season brings an increase in bear and cougar sightings.

“There’s definitely high activity right now but that’s not necessarily unusual,” says Samantha Webb, program coordinator for Wild Wise.

The organization already had a branch in Sooke, where Webb says they’ve seen a big change in human-bear conflicts. Wild Wise officially opened in Metchosin last summer and began branching into Colwood this past winter. They’re looking to get a program started in Shawnigan and the Cowichan Valley as well.

“There’s a big need for wildlife education pretty much anywhere you live where there’s people and wildlife living close together,” Webb says.

READ ALSO: Bear attacks Rottweiler near Matheson Lake in Metchosin

When the program first started in Sooke, Webb says there were many human and bear conflicts leading to the habituation of bears and bear death due to their threat to humans. However, last year, Webb says there was only one bear death due to human and wildlife conflict.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress in Sooke and are hoping to bring that to other communities,” Webb says.

When Wild Wise was first interested in starting a program in Metchosin, Webb says residents acknowledged the fact that bears have gone after livestock but often said there was no garbage issue in the district. Webb, however, says that is not the case.

“We absolutely do have a garbage issue in Metchosin and unfortunately wildlife play a part in that,” Webb says.

She says residents should start to keep garbage in a secure location like a shed or garage right up until the morning of collection and not put their garbage out the night before otherwise it is “a matter of time” before animals get into it. Webb says wildlife and bears learn quickly that garbage is an easy, high-calorie food source and will continue to try and get into garbage until they’re successful. She says bears will even come close to homes to investigate.

READ ALSO: Wild Wise Sooke urges bear awareness

Cougars and bears also tend to go for unsecured livestock, so Webb recommends using an electric fence.

“And that includes for chickens too,” Webb says.

When out on hikes, Webb says to keep pets on a leash. If a bear or cougar is encountered in the woods she says to not run away or scream but to maintain eye contact while talking and backing away slowly.

“We have to remember they’re wild animals and they’re unpredictable,” Webb says.

The number one thing to keep in mind, Webb says, is that it is up to humans to manage attractants in order to keep wildlife, community members, pets and livestock safe.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

bearsWest ShoreWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

Multiple Victoria officers injured during violent incidents, including mental health calls over long weekend

Police deploy pepper spray, conducted energy weapon while arresting suspect

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Most Read