Co-existing with Wildlife: Sooke Residents and Community Volunteers Doing Great Work

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Reports Favourable “Black Bear Trend” in Sooke

Friday, July 8, 2022 – A decade ago when Jordan River’s Debbie Read launched a bear-wise campaign in the Sooke region as a precursor to Wild Wise Sooke (now Wild Wise Society), estimates of 20+ garbage-habituated bears per year were having to be put down annually.

In 2015, this number declined to 9 and as of 2021, 1. Can we get to zero?

What you need to know:

If you see a bear:

  • Remain calm: don’t panic.
  • Keep away from the bear and bring children and pets indoors.
  • Never approach the bear and do not run from it.
  • Warn others of the bear’s presence, without yelling.
  • Once the bear has left, check your yard to ensure there are no attractants available.

If the bear is threatening, immediately call the Conservation Officer Service at 1.877.952.RAPP (7277) or local RCMP at 250.642.5241.

How you can help:

Eliminate access to human food
“People teach bears bad habits. If bears are allowed to access human food and garbage, they quickly learn to associate it with people and become what is called food-conditioned. These bears also become habituated to people as they lose their fear of humans.

Habituated and food-conditioned bears learn to expect human food and are more likely to approach people, increasing risks to public safety, and are more difficult to drive away than wild bears.” (Bear Smart Community Program)

Secure your attractants

  1. Secure garbage in the garage or shed until the morning of collection.
  2. Protect livestock with electric fence and shelter.
  3. Pick fruit trees and prevent windfall.
  4. Do not feed wildlife.
  5. Freeze organic waste to prevent it from smelling.
  6. Clean BBQ after every use.
  7. Feed pets indoors.
  8. Store pet and livestock feed in a bear-resistant location.

Learn more:

Wildlife Education | Wild Wise (wildwisesociety.org)

The District provides $7,000 annually to Wild Wise to support their education efforts which include signage and events.

Black bear photographed by Josh DeLeenheer
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