Introducing Wild Wise Sooke

A new campaign is being launched to deal with bears and human conflicts

  • Apr. 29, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Bears are at risk of becoming habituated to human food.

Keeping bears wild and humans safe is priority #1

Educating the public on how to live harmoniously with Sooke’s wildlife is the guiding principle of a new organization launched by former WildSafe BC  regional coordinator Debb Read and Nitya Harris of the Coexisting with Carnivores Alliance in partnership with the Sooke Transition Town Society.

Wild Wise Sooke will initially and primarily focus on bear management as Read continues a highly effective campaign she began 2012. Sooke is statistically one of the Canada’s leading hotspots for black bears. Problems arise as bears become habituated to dining on garbage rather than berries and roots. In turn, this creates safety issues and, in increasingly rare instances, fatal consequences for the bears.

The good news: Read’s efforts have decreased the number of local complaints to conservation services by 40 per cent (down to 278 calls last spring and summer). Better still, only four bears needed to be destroyed last year in the District of Sooke compared to 16 in 2013.

Sooke is now ready for its own community wildlife education program directed by a founding working group that features Read, Harris, the District of Sooke’s Laura Byrne and Councillor Ebony Logins from the EMCS Society, Transition Sooke’s Jeff Bateman and the Chamber of Commerce’s Travis Butler. The RCMP’s Jeff McArthur and Conservation Officers Peter Pauwels and Richard DeKelver are part of the advisory team.

“Ongoing public education is essential or the progress we’ve made will be lost,” explained Read. “The vast majority of people get it, but there are still folks out there who either store their garbage outside or keep it in the garage but put it out the night before pick-up. Other people leave pet food outside,  keep their birdfeeders full during the summer or are careless with their compost. All this is pure bear bait and it’s guaranteed to increase the chance of dangerous interactions between the bears and us.”

Sooke residents who spot a bear in their neighbourhood should immediately call the Ministry of Environment’s RAPP line at 1-800-663-WILD. In most cases, the creature will be rambling through on its way elsewhere, however the call allows conservation staff to track the local bear population. If the problem persists, Read makes a personal visit to explore the root causes and offer bear-wise remedies.

“Once a bear starts equating humans with food, they lose their natural wariness and become what is called ‘human-habituated,’” she explains. “They then learn to tolerate us in much closer proximity than what is safe for both bears and humans.  My best advise to homeowners is to take a careful look around their property, figure out what’s attracting the bears and then take remedial steps.”

Wild Wise Sooke is a good fit for Transition Sooke, said Bateman.

“One key aspect of the Transition Town philosophy is the ‘inner transition,’ and Debb is working hard to change the way we respect and interact with all forms of life in the region. Since 90 per cent of bear problems arise from garbage issues, the new group can partner up on projects with the new Zero Waste Sooke initiative. Best of all, Debb and Nitya are remarkably competent, caring and capable individuals with a plan and the energy to make it happen. The bears and all our wild things are fortunate to have them.”

The new organization is seeking volunteers, donors and partnerships with local non-profits, businesses and funding bodies.

In time, the educational focus will turn to cougars, raccoons, deer and other local inhabitants.

For further information, please contact Debb Read at debbread@icloud.com.

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police because of her ‘body language’

Patrol officers investigate sexual assault files, make decisions on what goes to Crown counsel

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight in Victoria

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

Sooke RCMP seek video after tires slashed on five vehicles

10 tires damaged in overnight incident in Sooke

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Langford approves permit for 124-unit mass timber building

Tallwood 1 to be completed by late 2021

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

Playing his tune

Musician Daniel Morel breaks out a tune with his harmonica in front… Continue reading

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

Most Read