Barry Coulter file photo.

Barry Coulter file photo.

WildSafeBC reports annual activities to Cranbrook city council

Urban deer and bear sightings are down, while cougar sightings are slightly up in the Cranbrook area, according to a report from WildSafeBC.

Danica Rousey, the Community Coordinator for WildSafeBC Kimberley/Cranbrook, summarized the city’s urban wildlife activity this past spring, summer and fall season during a presentation to Cranbrook city council on Monday night.

Through the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP), which collects data from both the BC Conservation Officer Service, there were 351 reports of wildlife within the city between May and November.

Breaking down the numbers, 211 were urban deer, 63 were black bear, 13 were grizzly bears, 25 were elk and six were cougars.

Rousey said much of the black bear sightings came from the community forest area by the College of the Rockies and the Cranbrook Golf Club, while a majority of the urban deer complaints came from the neighbourhood around Parkland Middle School, 14th Ave S and surrounding neighbourhoods and Idlewild.

“Though it seems like there are a lot of deer reports, 2017 was the big year and we’ve seen a drop in 2018 and 2019. It’s slowly climbing…but the main point of this is it’s mainly aggressive does with fawns and dogs, but a lot of them are just sighted on the road or they were hit, so there are less aggressive reports in here,” Rousey said.

Between May and August, much of the aggressive deer reports involve does with fawns encountering dogs, while going into September and the fall months, aggressive deer reports trend towards bucks in rutting season.

In addition to animal data tracking, WildSafeBC Kimberley/Cranbrook also monitors attractants, which typically include things like household garbage, residential fruit trees or berries, and livestock.

Rousey also reported that there were 10 outings with Conservation Officers for garbage tagging. In total, 33 bins were tagged with 12 repeat offenders. Additionally, 64 per cent of those initially tagged had changed their behaviour when Conservation Officers came by for follow up surveys.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected normal WildSafeBC operations this year, however, Rousey was able to conduct 21 WildSafe Ranger Program presentations, as well as deliver additional presentations to 25 community groups.

Challenges this past year for the community included attractant management, reducing the feeding of urban deer, and dealing with repeat offenders who leave garbage out overnight. Looking ahead to 2021, goals include more deer safety presentations and creating a video, forming a wildlife working group, and connecting with waste management companies to ensure that no plastic lids are used for dumpsters or garbages.

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