Bear season in Sooke is winding down as our ubiquitous brown buddies prepare for their more passive winter season.
But while our furry brown neighbours take a well-deserved rest from raiding fruit trees and poking their noses into garbage cans, Samantha Webb, the community coordinator for Wild Wise Sooke and an urban wildlife conflict specialist, will be hard at work delivering a program to youth.
“Throughout the winter I’ll be going into the elementary schools a few times a month to deliver a program that hopefully will help to educate the children about how to co-exist with the wildlife in and around Sooke,” Webb said.
“I’ll be going into individual classrooms where I’ll deliver special presentations that are specially designed for the classes’ curriculum and grade level.”
The hope is that these sessions will help to teach children about some important facts about nature.
“We want to show them that everything in nature has a purpose … from a bear to a butterfly… and that we need to learn how to live with the nature around us.”
Most people in Sooke will be familiar with Wild Wise Sooke for the work it does during the spring and summer to help educate the public about some wildlife basics like securing garbage containers and picking fruit from trees to prevent human-bear encounters. The group does that, not only to protect the people of Sooke but to safeguard the bears who can easily become habituated to the high calorie treats found around fruit trees and garbage containers.
“The winter gives us a chance to work with the children and teach them about, not only bears but all wildlife,” Webb said. “We’re hoping that those children will take home the handouts and information and help to pass the information along to their parents.”
Some of that information may be interactive as the children will be given the outlines for scavenger hunts that they can undertake with their parents.
Webb said beyond talking about bears, she will be providing the children with information about the full range of wildlife in Sooke, including deer, ill-behaved raccoons, and even birds.
“Take bird feeders as an example. They really aren’t a good idea, and not only because they attract bears, raccoons and other animals, but because they aren’t particularly good for birds,” Webb said.
“Bird feeders are a cesspool of disease as all the birds share the same food source. People don’t think about that when they put up feeders.”
As another part of the school visits, Webb hopes to include some outside activities where she can provide some (artificial) examples of animal scat and footprints so the students can learn to identify wildlife by the signs they leave behind.
“We’ll also be talking about things like considerations when walking alone in the woods, how to respect animal habitat, and how to co-exist with the animals in our neighbourhoods,” Webb said.
For more information on Wild Wise, visit facebook.com/wildwisesooke/.