Spring is typically the season for increased human/bear interaction. (WildsafeBC - Facebook)

Spring is typically the season for increased human/bear interaction. (WildsafeBC - Facebook)

South Island human/wildlife interraction society expands to Campbell River

Wild Wise, based in Sooke, will now have a chapter based in Campbell River, as well

A Sooke-based environmental group has expanded to Campbell River, hoping to raise awareness and education around human/wildlife interactions.

Wild Wise, a working group based under the umbrella of the Transition Sooke Town Society, now has a Campbell River chapter being overseen by Lorna Seldon Burd. Burd and the organization’s founder, Sam Webb, presented to Campbell River city council April 26 outlining their goals and asking for the city’s support.

Webb says the organization is not a replacement or addition to the services provided by Conservation Officer Service, but instead aims to be proactive in providing education rather than reactive in providing response to interactions, although the group does both, to some extent.

“We get reports, whether from social media, conservation officers, local bylaw, district officials, letting us know about wildlife interactions that are happening in the community,” Webb says. “At this time of the year, it tends to have a lot to do with bears.”

Wild Wise then goes around and provides educational and awareness material, such as “Bear in Area” signage and going door-to-door passing out flyers, “to give them an idea of how to prevent conflict.”

They also, “pre-COVID times,” Webb says, “have booths at festivals, we have an in-school program and can basically create any kind of program around what the community needs. If there needs to be more work done in schools, we can do that. If we need something focused on deer, our volunteers can develop a deer program and deliver it to the community.”

Burd approached Webb to see what it would take to open a chapter here in Campbell River, “a few months back,” Webb says, and one of the first steps was liaising with other local organizations to see what role needed filling in this regard.

Greenways Land Trust, for example, runs regular “Bear Aware” type courses. Burd told council that in approaching them, it turns out they were very enthusiastic to have some of that role in the community taken off their plate.

RELATED: Bears take the brunt of negative human behaviour in B.C.

“I posed to Greenways whether they would like to run this type of program under their name,” Burd says. “They said they were 100 per cent behind us and will back us, but they haven’t got this in their scope right now,” adding the organization is working in collaboration with Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) and the Pacific Salmon Foundation to see how they can fill any possible gaps in their programming or services, as well. She also asked council to forward on any other potential groups they could potentially coordinate with in order to help meet the community’s need.

“It’s nice to have people come to us proposing solutions to problems that are proactive, rather than the negative side: the ‘you can’t do this and you can’t do that’ kind of approach, so that’s appreciated,” says Coun. Charlie Cornfield. “I would suggest you reach out to the Campbell River Fish and Wildlife Association, which does the wilderness watch program up here and numerous other programs. They’re always looking for programs to help with and they have funds available.”

The Campbell River chapter doesn’t have its own website yet, but you can find out more about Wild Wise by messaging the group on their Facebook Page, Wild Wise Campbell River, or by visiting the Sooke chapter’s website, www.wildwisesooke.ca

RELATED: Bear kills Llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock


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