The third week in September is when human-bear conflicts usually peak throughout the province; and that is why WildSafeBC has chosen the weekend of September 17–18 for its first “BC Goes Wild” weekend.
“It’s an initiative to encourage people to get out and safely enjoy the wild spaces and to watch wildlife in their natural habitat,” says Frank Ritcey, WildSafeBC’s provincial coordinator. “Too often we see bear, deer, cougars, and other wildlife in urban settings. This weekend is to highlight the fact that it’s safer for us and for the animals if they remain in the wilds.”
B.C. residents are encouraged to take part in three different province-wide initiatives this weekend. There is a colouring contest for adults and children; a photo competition; and a wildlife count activity. Prizes will be awarded for all three events.
The colouring contest is designed for adults, but is open to people of all ages. An image on the WildSafeBC site (wildsafebc.com) can be printed and coloured in; then participants should take a photo of the image and send it, by October 1, to firstname.lastname@example.org. One lucky person will receive a spotting scope, that will enable them to spot wildlife at a distance.
The photo competition is looking for photographs of wildlife or outdoor activities taken during the weekend of Sept. 17–18. Guidelines can be found on the WildSafeBC website, and participants are asked to send their photographs to the e-mail address above. The prize is a set of binoculars.
The wildlife count activity asks participants to keep track of all the wildlife they see during the weekend. This includes mammals (25 points for each different species); birds (five points); reptiles (50 points); amphibians (50 points); fish (35 points); and invertebrates (five points). A tracking form can be printed off at the WildSafeBC website, and submitted (either by filling in an online form or by scanning and e-mailing the list). The prize is a camera with an extra-long zoom lens.
There are also several events going on around the province to celebrate the weekend. Anyone going to Kamloops on September 17 can take part in a scavenger hunt/nature walk at Kenna Cartwright Park from 1 to 3 p.m. Local WildSafeBC coordinator Dana Eye will be leading the scavenger hunt, and teaching participants about the vegetation and wildlife in the area. The event is suitable for those aged six and over, and leashed dogs are allowed. Be warned that there is some rough ground, so the event is not suitable for those with mobility issues. Wear appropriate footwear, and bring water and a snack.
Merritt will also be hosting a nature walk and scavenger hunt on September 17, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Godey Creek Trail (meet at the Merritt Tourism Info Centre). TNRD WildSafeBC coordinator Mandy Ross will take participants on a walk to show them what wildlife lives in the area, and will tell what people can do to keep themselves and their dogs safe while hiking. There will also be a scavenger hunt, so those taking part should be on the lookout for signs of wildlife. The event is open to all ages, although there is a moderate elevation gain on the trail. Appropriate hiking footwear and water are necessary.
“Even if you don’t participate in an organized activity, we encourage you to take the opportunity to safely spend some time in our fabulous outdoors,” says Ritcey. “And feel free to share your experience on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/Wildsafebc/) or take it with #bcgoeswildweekend on Instagram and Twitter.”