Living with Wildlife

How we manage our living space has a big impact on the amount of human-wildlife conflict we experience. While wildlife will pass through our community, if they are able to access food, water, and shelter easily, they will linger too long near homes causing undesirable consequences for everyone. WildSafeBC recommends that residents walk around their properties at least once a year to assess areas where wildlife may be inclined to stick around and take action to reduce attractants.

WildSafeBC

"Keeping wildlife wild and communities safe"wildsafebc logo

WildSafeBC is the provincial leader in preventing conflict with wildlife through collaboration, education and community solutions. It has evolved out of the successful Bear Aware program and is owned and delivered by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation. WildSafeBC provides information on how we can reduce human-wildlife conflicts in all aspects of our lives, including how we liveworkplay and grow.

WildSafeBC is designed, owned and delivered by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation as a partnership between local funding bodies (such as municipalities and regional districts) and the Province of BC.

For several years, the Northern Rockies has partnered with WildSafeBC to host a WildSafeBC Program Community Coordinator from May to September. In addition to educational presentations and events in the community, the Community Coordinator is assisting the NRRM as we work to achieve Bear Smart Community status. 

Kim Eglinski, Community Coordinator - WildSafeBC Northern Rockies | P: 250.775.0860 | E: northernrockies@wildsafebc.com

Check out the WildSafeBC Northern Rockies Facebook page for fun and informative events happening locally!

Conservation Officer Service

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) is a public safety provider focused on natural resource law enforcement and human wildlife conflicts prevention and response. Conservation Officers work with private and public partners and local and provincial stakeholders to reduce human-wildlife conflict, as well as enforce federal and provincial statutes. The BC Conservation Officer Service uses the Human-Black Bear (Single) Conflict Response Guidelines to determine appropriate and consistent responses to conflicts.

Conservation service report all poachers and polluters hotline

 

Becoming a Bear Smart Community

The Bear Smart Community Program was designed to address the main causes of human-bear conflicts and reduce the risks to human safety. The Bear Smart Community Program details the steps and procedures by which communities can reduce the frequency and intensity of human-bear conflicts. The process involves a shift from the reactive management of “problem” bears to the proactive management of the attractants that draw bears into the communities. This management plan includes components on monitoring human-bear conflicts, education, managing waste, implementing and enforcing bylaws, managing green space, and community planning.

In August 2022, Regional Council endorsed a Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan (HBCMP). The goal of this plan is to reduce human-bear conflicts identified in the Bear Hazard Assessment and lead to a safer community. The HBCMP was developed with consultation from the Human-Bear Conflict Management Working Group which includes representatives from the NRRM, Fort Nelson First Nation, WildSafe BC, and the Conservation Officer Service.

Bear Smart Community Program CriteriaStatus
Prepare a Bear Hazard Assessment using required criteria Completed in 2020
Prepare a Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan that addresses the bear hazards and land use conflicts noted in the BHA Completed in 2022
Revise planning and decision-making documents to be consistent with the Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan For consideration
Continue ongoing education program to entire community 2018 - Present
Develop/Continue to maintain a bear-resistant solid waste management plan In progress
Implement/Revise "Bear Smart" bylaws that prohibit the provision of food to bears as a result of intent, neglect, or irresponsible management of attractants Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants Bylaw No. 05, 2009 has been established and is currently under review

How to avoid a wildlife encounter

Wildlife avoidance is better than having to deal with wildlife directly. Whether it is bear, cougar or a defensive cow moose, it is always better to have avoided a confrontation than to have to try to survive one. 

Follow these tips to avoid potentially dangerous animal encounters and help keep wildlife and people safe.

  1. Avoid moving through wild habitat silently or alone—instead, travel in groups and make noise.
  2. Avoid walking or biking on trails at dawn and dusk.
  3. Remain alert. Remove headphones and look and listen for signs of wildlife activity.
  4. Do not stop on the side of the road to view wildlife. If you see an animal while driving, slow down, but do not impede traffic flow to stop. Stopping creates unsafe driving conditions and can stress the animal by disrupting their eating pattern. Never get out of your car on the side of the road.
  5. Never feed or approach wildlife. Keep your distance, back away slowly and leave the area. 
  6. Manage attractants, so animals can't access unnatural food sources. Put all garbage and recycling in wildlife resistant containers or enclosures, and ensure bins and buildings are always tightly closed or locked and cleaned regularly.
  7. Keep your dog on a leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behaviour in wild animals.
  8. Keep your campsite bare and clean.
  9. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. This is your best defence in case of a negative encounter.

What to do if you encounter wildlife

Wildlife and humans inhabit similar environments. On the chance you encounter wildlife in your backyard or on the trails in the NRRM, being aware and prepared can help prevent potentially dangerous situations. 

It is normal to be frightened when you encounter an animal but remember that most wildlife prefer to avoid contact with humans. Remain calm and maintain a safe distance from all wildlife. Understanding behaviours can help you decide how to react in a defensive or aggressive encounter.

If experiencing any conflict with wildlife, contact the Conservation Officer Service RAPP line by phoning 1.877.952.7277.

Help manage wildlife attractants

To help residents and visitors understand which items attract wildlife to homes, businesses and cars, the definition of a wildlife attractant has been updated in the NRRM Garbage Disposal & Wildlife Attractants Bylaw to include any substance or material that attracts or is likely to attract wildlife. Wildlife attractants now explicitly include, but are not limited to:

Food • Edible products • Pet food • Seed • Compost (other than grass clippings, leaves or branches) •
Grease • Oil • Antifreeze • Paint • Petroleum products

Other attractants in and around homes include garbage, recyclables, fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetable gardens, bird feeders, barbeques, citronella candles and even hot tub covers. Everyone is required to keep these items secured and away from bears. Homeowners should also ensure any renters learn how to manage attractants.

Manage attractants at home

  • Store garbage, recycling and organic waste (compost) in a secure building (not on your patio or porch). Ensure recycling is rinsed and garbage bins are only curbside between 5:00 am and 7:00 pm on collection days. See our Garbage and Recycling page to find out when your collection day is.
  • Burn barbeques clean and remove all grease and food scraps after every use or take drip pans inside.
  • Feed pets inside and store pet food indoors.
  • Use non-citronella products to deter insects.
  • Use an aluminum hot tub cover

Manage attractants in your yard

  • Avoid planting shrubs and trees that provide food and consider their removal if you already have them. Information on specific types of berries or other fruit, bushes, shrubs and flowers to avoid
  • Do not feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife such as deer has long-term implications such as increased disease risk, habituation to humans, habitat destruction, increased wildlife-vehicle collisions and public safety concerns. Read more about urban deer conflicts
  • Remove bird feeders during bear season (April 1 to November 30). Remember to clean the ground underneath bird feeders.
  • If you have a backyard compost, use a wildlife resistant composter or drop off compost free at the municipal waste depot site to be used in our vermicompost program.
  • Consider using an electric fence to keep wildlife out of your garden.
  • Pick fruit a few days before ripe or before it becomes extra fragrant.
  • Clean any fallen fruit. If you are planning to be away, ask a friend or neighbour to collect fruit.
  • Keep your lawn mowed and yard weed-free.

Manage attractants at work

  • Store work site products, including petroleum products, biodiesel and other vegetable-based fuels and lubricants , in sealed and locked containers when not in immediate use (in compliance with safety regulations that apply to your work area).

Report human-wildlife conflict

Report wildlife encounters where public safety is at risk to the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) RAPP line at 1.877.952.7277. 

In an imminent and life-threatening emergency
, call 911 for the Northern Rockies RCMP.

Report poorly managed wildlife attractants (garbage, recycling, compost or plants) to NRRM Bylaw Services 
P: 250.774.2541 ext. 2059     E: bylaws@northernrockies.ca

The British Columbia Conservation Foundation's Wildlife Alert Reporting Program(WARP) map allows visitors to view recently reported sightings.