Black Bear activity is picking up in Tofino and Ucluelet. (Westerly file photo)

Black Bear activity is picking up in Tofino and Ucluelet. (Westerly file photo)

Bears feasting on spring’s bounty around Tofino and Ucluelet

Pacific Rim’s WildSafeBC coordinator urging residents to keep attractants secured

Spring has sprung and the local bear population is feasting.

Pacific Rim’s WildSafeBC coordinator Bob Hansen is urging residents to help keep those bears noshing on natural food sources by keeping their attractants, like garbage, pet food and composts, secured.

“Early in the spring, there’s such a flush of green vegetation that the bears hit really hard. There’s an opportunity right now, they’re very focused on natural foods and we want to keep that going through the rest of the season and not tempt them into conflict in our communities,” Hansen told the Westerly News. “There’s just such an abundance of that springtime green-up that they really gravitate to. Bears are active in our communities and in all of those areas where we like to get outdoors and play, so that means we really need to start off strong this spring and ensure that it stays that way: bears foraging on natural foods and not being tempted towards unnatural attractants in our backyards.”

Hansen is heading into his fourth year of helming the WildSafeBC Pacific Rim program in Tofino and Ucluelet and was thrilled to be joined by new coordinator Marianne Paquette last year who was brought in to launch the first-ever WildSafeBC Hitacu-Macoah program.

“We had some great successes with a lot of communities and were able to really build relationships for this year,” Paquette told the Westerly. “We want to keep wildlife wild and make sure that we can keep coexisting, so we want to promote coexistence through community solutions and education throughout the season…Education is such a great way to bring this message forward because people might just not be aware of certain ways they can secure their attractants and that’s what we’re here for, to bring those solutions out and make sure we can reduce conflicts.”

Both Hansen and Paquette have relaunched their annual garbage bin tagging programs in an effort to remind residents that garbage must never be put outside before the morning of pickup and are preparing to roll out a variety of initiatives this year, including a new WildSafeBC business pledge program.

“It’s a great way to engage and really work closely with local businesses,” Hansen said. “There are any number of businesses that really demonstrate their strong commitment to looking after the West Coast and the environment of the West Coast including the wildlife.”

A workshop is also being scheduled to help bring local campground owners up to speed on the BARE campsite program.

“We’re hoping to make these businesses and campgrounds safe for communities, wildlife and also their guests that are visiting,” Paquette said.

Hansen noted the region experienced an “intense” tourist season last summer and he expects similar activity this year, depending on the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we really saw a dramatic response when COVID-19 travel restrictions were eased. All our communities saw that,” he said. “Everyone wanted to come here and enjoy the outdoors. This year, I think it’s reasonable to expect we’ll see something similar.”

He said he’s been reaching out to partners about reaching out to visitors before they arrive about how to be respectful and help protect wildlife when they’re here.

“There’s already a lot of great outreach going on, we just want to add to those efforts and hopefully avoid some of the challenges we saw with that intense visitation last year,” he said.

Anyone looking for more information about WildSafeBC, including information about funding support for electric fencing around storage sheds and chicken coops, is encouraged to reach out to Hansen or Paquette.

Hansen can be reached at pacrim@wildsafebc.com, (250) 828-2551 or through the WildSafeBC Pacific Rim Facebook page.

Paquette can be reached at hitacu-macoah@wildsafebc.com, 514-622-7317 or through the WildSafeBC Hitacu-Macoah Facebook page.

Anyone who spots a predator in town is urged to report their sighting to the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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