Wild Wise Sooke urges bear awareness

Educational group kicks up social media presence in response to social distancing.

This map photo shows some of the bear encounters in the Sooke region this year. (Photo contributed by Wild Wise Sooke)

It’s that time of year again – to be bear-aware.

With most people at home, and likely producing more garbage than usual, due to the pandemic, it is crucial that we are wary of our furry neighbours.

Sam Webb, community coordinator at Wild Wise Sooke, said unsecured garbage is the main reason bears come into our neighbourhoods, followed closely by livestock and compost.

By removing these attractants from yards, residents can help keep communities safe and minimize human-bear conflicts. In short, the fewer bear attractants in and around town, the fewer bears there will be.

“Usually spring time is a time of high activity for bears, who are waking up from their long winter naps. They are usually really hungry at this time so its important for residents to properly manage their garbage,” Webb said.

Webb said this year Wild Wise has received around 20 calls about bear encounters so far, some of which were in repeated areas. A few of the interactions took place on Carpenter Road, Drennen Sreet, and Winfield Drive. Webb’s also keeping an eye out on Sarah Drive, which has tended to be a popular hot spot for bear encounters.

RELATED: B.C. bear feeding crackdown finds hundreds of human offenders

“There is a major difference between a bear passing through a neighbourhood, and a bear in garbage. Only when the bear is up to mischief is when it becomes a concern,” Webb said.

“We definitely have more concerns at this time, because more people are at home, which naturally means more garbage is produced. We just hope they are dealing with it accordingly so wildlife can’t access it,” said Webb.

“I think most people in Sooke care about wildlife in general, and they take pride in being so close to the wild, but sometimes are not sure how to love wildlife in the right way.”

Wild Wise Sooke would normally go around door to door at this time handing out information on how to be “wild wise,” but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community group has been keeping its distance. The group also usually sets up at local events, such as fairs and farmers markets, and goes around to schools at this time of year to keep the public informed, however that has not been possible.

“We are really trying to do a lot on social media; posting several times a day with different photos, sightings, or educational bits, just to stay present in the community and keep wildlife on people’s minds,” said Webb, adding the group also updates its website regularly, and sent out a pamphlet on “wild wise actions” with Sooke residents’ tax form packages.

Wild Wise is in the process of making some educational videos and youth activities for the community, which it hopes to put up on Facebook some time this week.

“We want to encourage better coexistence with the wildlife, so that they can continue to live a wild life. This takes altering our behaviour to be better neighbours,” said Webb.

The provincial government is also reminding people to keep their “bear attractants at bay” through theirits Bear Smart community program.

“If bears do not have access to non-natural food sources, such as garbage, fruit and bird seed within communities, they have no reason to hang around. This results in increased safety for both people and bears,” said Mike Badry, provincial wildlife conflict manager, B.C .Conservation Officer Service on the province’s website.

“Residents could turn this unusual time into something positive for wildlife by taking extra time to secure attractants and educate themselves about Bear Smart practices.”

Last year the Conservation Officer Service received more than 20,000 calls related to conflicts with bears, many of which were due to unsecured attractants.

“Every year hundreds, and in some years over a thousand, bears are destroyed as a result of conflicts between people and bears,” the province website states.

“The goal is to address the root causes of human-bear conflicts, thereby reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.”

If you spot a bear in a residential area or with people nearby:

• Remain calm. Often, the bear is just passing through. If it finds no food source, it will simply move on.

• Keep your distance. Warn others to keep away as well, and bring your children and pets into the house.

• If the bear appears to be threatening, overly persistent, or aggressive, call the conservation officer 1-877-952-7277.

For more information, please go online to www.wildwisesooke.com or www2.gov.bc.ca and search ‘Bear Smart.’

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

SookeWildlifewildlife enforcement

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

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Shay Baker, 17, hasn’t been seen or heard from since Oct. 21 and is wanted on outstanding warrants. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for high-risk missing youth

Shay Baker, 17, is wanted on outstanding warrants

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read