Wildlife Stewardship & Stewardship Committees 


 

The elements of expanding land use, consumptive rights over wildlife, habitat utilization,P9200102.JPG wildlife population dynamics, and the human contribution of diverse attitudes and values evidence thr need for wildlife professionals and major stakeholders to be stewards of wildlife and their habitats.

In BC, research has proven that wildlife management professionals might be short circuiting transformational change to proactive management strategies with their response to human-wildlife conflict. In the case of bears, officers remove one of the incentives for behavioral change by removing the conflict animals; however, leaving food-conditioned bears in a community is also not feasible from a public safety perspective.

Committee Development

For long term sustainability of the Bear Smart Community Program it is important to create a Bear Stewardship Committee. Decisions on the process, delivery, and implementation of mangement strategies are best achieved when cooperatively developed by a dedicated group of individuals. Without public and community support for proactive management, human-bear conflicts will continue to increase, and bears will continue to be destroyed. 

What We Do

  • We recommend composition of the committee to ensure diverse input from the community and surrounding areas;
  • provide training and ongoing support to community leaders committed and dedicated to implement the Bear Smart Community Program;
  • develop recommendations for annual project funding;
  • develop strong partnerships with all levels of government and other stakeholders; and
  • develop public education outreach programs.

Human Attitudes, Values, and Perceptions 

Human-wildlife conflict in urban areas are linked to the increased availability of human food attractants, which highlights the need to understand the basis for resident behavior and perception in relation to human-wildlife conflict situations. The attitudes and perceptions of wildlife management agencies and their individual officers also need to be taken into account to gain the whole perspective of the personal dynamics involved with effectively managing conflict in each community.

Origin of HWC Mangement Practices

Canada’s history would indicate that the original pioneers settling here were faced with large carnivores that generated enormous fear. The solution was to destroy the animal. This mindset forms the basis of the Conservation Officer Service’s historical response.

Canada continued to attract more and more settlers, very few of whom had previous experience of co-existence with such large carnivores. Western culture through religion and agriculture promotes a mindset of dominion over animals both domestic and wild. This mindset continues to this day with even so-called 'defenders of wildlife' seeing themselves as above the ecosystem, not part of it. Historically, this mindset has led humans to protect certain animals – i.e., livestock – and destroy those that threaten themselves or the protected animals.

This behavior is common with many animals as well. This mindset followed the first European settlers to Canada and has persisted as part of the culture ever since. A cultural trend has been growing over the past 40 years for individuals to abdicate their personal responsibility for both the effects of their actions and the solutions to the problems caused by those actions. This cultural trend is prevalent throughout Western civilizations and has impacted on how individuals manage their own conflict with wildlife. Most people expect somebody else to solve their problems – in this case, conflict with wildlife.

Wildlife Perception of Humans

Conover (2002) stated that attacks on humans by bears, cougars, and wolves have proliferated over the past few decades, driving many experts to conduct research on this phenomenon. A century ago, people shot predators on sight, leaving them very wary of humans. These animals avoided areas of human habitation and fled as soon as a human was spotted. People are increasingly using the back country for recreational and non-consumptive purposes adding to this shift of wildlife perceptions of humans. Many predators have now learned that humans make useful neighbors, providing food usually in the form of handouts, garbage, and pet foods. Some predators have now moved into areas of human habitation in pursuit of deer and small mammals that have also made people’s backyards their home.