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As much as they like your garbage, bears will fare better if you put a lid on it

Jonah Philip, Brady Greenwood and Lucas Blatchford are getting ready to knock on doors in efforts to reduce the number of bear killed each year in Sooke. - Britt Santowski
Jonah Philip, Brady Greenwood and Lucas Blatchford are getting ready to knock on doors in efforts to reduce the number of bear killed each year in Sooke.
— image credit: Britt Santowski

In the past 18 months, 24 bears have been destroyed. In response, three youth from the Sooke Youth Council have put out a call to educate the masses on living with wildlife.

“The garbage really attracts the bears,” noted Jonah Philip. He and two others,  Brady Greenwood and Lucas Blatchford, have coordinated a door-to-door education campaign, specifically targeting Sunriver.

“We’re getting out as many volunteers as we can to chart around Sunriver and cover as many homes as we can.”

Jonah noted there are many people who are putting out garbage the night before pick-up, and it is to the bears’ detriment.

“When people phone about the bears in their garbage, the bears just get killed,” said Jonah, “instead of relocating them, the bears just get killed.”

“Relocation seldom works,” states the WildSafeBC pamphlet that will be circulated. “Individuals often return to their original home territory or become ‘problem’ animals in other communities. In addition, translocated wildlife often fail to adapt to their new habitat and, as a result, may starve to death or be killed by those animals that already occupy the territory.”

Inspired and shocked after a presentation by Debbie Reid, the WildSafe BC Capital Regional District Coordinator, the youth were determined to make a difference by contributing to the education of people.

“A lot of the bear culls come from Sunriver,” said Jonah. So starting Thursday, July 17, a group of volunteers headed up by these youth will be knocking on doors in Sunriver. Where at all possible, they are looking to provide the information face-to-face; where not, they will leave a pamphlet. Conservation officer Peter Pauwels added that while the Sunriver area does have bear, so do other areas in town like Grant Road and Whiffin Spit.

In 2013, there were 441 complaints. From highest to lowest, Read noted that the top four bear attractants were garbage, fruit trees, compost and chickens, with the fourth steadily increasing in popularity.

“We’re really hoping we can reduce those numbers,” said Pauwels, adding that that can be achieved if only local residents learn to better manage the bear attractants.

Read added to the statistics, saying that “Sooke has the fourth highest bear complaints in the province.”

If you want to volunteer and make a difference, contact Jonah through the Youth Sooke Council (sookeyouth.ca), using their Contact form.

In the meanwhile it is suggested people do what they can to reduce the number of bear killed in the Sooke region.

“We’re really grateful for the assistance Wildlife BC and Debbie Read have provided,” noted Pauwels, “and we’re grateful to the youth volunteers.”

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