West Kelowna council adopts WildSafe public education program

The new program is education focused and will help prevent bear and other wildlife encounters in communities

A West Kelowna resident is very pleased by the city’s decision to become involved with the WildSafe BC program.

Dave Calder has been encouraging council to take steps towards bear safety since he made a presentation to council on September 8th, and at the latest West Kelowna council meeting they elected to do just that.  The WildSafe program is run by BC Conservation, and education is a key component of it.

“At farmer’s markets there will be booths set up, and there will probably be a garbage tagging program similar to what we did in the fall,” Calder explained.  “That’s going to survey the compliance of the bylaw and finding where people are putting out attractants.  Then you target those people with an educational message, and begin to bring those numbers down.”

The program will also involve school presentations, social media, and door to door canvassing, which will be done largely by volunteers.

“We’ll have true programs that have been tested, and we’ll really be able to make some headway,” Calder noted.

Although it will take some time before the program gets underway, Calder is ecstatic that he can tell people they will have an official program next year.  With 222 bear sightings in West Kelowna this year, the intent of the program is to change the behaviours of people and to reduce the number of attractants in neighbourhoods.  However, while bears will be a large focus of the program, it will also include other large wildlife such as cougars, deer and coyotes.

Calder added he was very pleased to see West Kelowna CAO Jim Zaffino spearhead the initiative to get the WildSafe program in West Kelowna, and he is excited that Peachland and Westbank First Nation have also displayed interest in it.  With time, Calder is hopeful the entire west side of the lake will be taking a regional approach to bear and wildlife safety.