The Human-Wildlife Problem


 

Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) occurs when wildlife threatens, attacks, injures, damages, or kills humans, livestock, crops, or property. HWC also often results in wildlife being inured or killed because of actual or perceived threats to people, family, livestock, or property. In either case, HWC is a public safety concern and serious obstacle to wildlife conservation.

Human impact on wildlife habitat is becoming more prevalent as human population pressure increases, development expands, and other human and environmental factors put people and wild animals in greater direct competition for a shrinking resource base. Between 1992 and 2008, the BC Ministry of Environment internal statistics show a 5-year average of 14,639 complaints of conflicts between people and bears alone. Some of these complaints were resolved by the destruction of approximately 618 black bears and 42 grizzly bears annually. ‘Problem bear' management is normally the result of bears’ attraction to non-natural foods, which have the continuous ability to draw bears in from large distances. In many cases wolves are now exhibiting similar behaviour. Cougars can be drawn into a community by easy accessibility to prey such as livestock and small animals, and may often stay in close proximity to the community as long as these prey animals are available. This also increases the potential of negative interaction between humans and cougars. Through hazard (risk) assessments, these issues can be identified and the vulnerability of a community can be assessed so that appropriate mitgation measures can be taken. 

Reducing human-wildlife conflict requires an understanding of a suite of issues including: public perceptions and attitudes towards risk and conflict, wildlife behavior, wildlife biology, population dynamics, and how the natural topography and non-natural attractants contribute to the problem. In order to develop sustainable management strategies, municipal decision-makers, responding agencies, and community stewardship groups need to gain understanding of these independent systems at play and how they collide to result in conflict. The following section delineates the services that Bear Smart BC Consulting, Inc. provides in order to aid in solving the wildlife-human problem.

 

 

Assessment Services

 

Bear Hazard Assessments


Human-bear conflict is a multifaceted system of social and biological issues. Bear Smart BC Consulting, Inc. prepares wildlife hazard assessments in accordance with the requirements set forth by the Ministry of Environment. Our consultants specifically tailor the assessments to meet the unique needs of the client and the environment within the parameters of the following objectives:

  1. to review historic patterns of human-bear conflicts based on public reporting systems and personal interviews;
  2. to evaluate non-natural and natural features that may influence travel patterns of bears including major roads, community edges, and green space; 
  3. to identify general and high-use wildlife habitatk, and potential natural movement patterns, including travel corridors within the adjacent community;
  4. to examine human-use areas that have a high risk for human-bear conflict such as schools, playgrounds, campgrounds, and areas adjacent to bear habitat, such as walking hiking and biking trails;
  5. to identify of non-natural food sources and attractants, including residential and commercial and recyclable disposal containment, garbage/recyclable transfer and disposal at landfills and transfer stations, parks and highway pullout litter barrels, orchards and fruit trees, ranching and other agricultural attractants, and grease barrels;
  6. to identify the human factors influencing the problem of wildlife conflict; and
  7. to fully appraise regional, inter-provincial, and/or international issues in areas outside the scope of the project that may influence the effectiveness of any wildlife prevention plan.