Maple Ridge has a new non-profit society dedicated to reducing human-bear conflicts, and ultimately keeping bears alive.
The Maple Ridge Black Bear Society started as a group of dedicated volunteers who would canvass neighbours with information about how to avoid attracting bears, pick fruit so it would’t be left around as an attractant, and run a social media page with great photos and videos that generally promote a love of bruins.
Leah Cooke announced on that Facebook Page on March 19 that the group has grown into a non-profit organization. They now link Maple Ridge into a network of similar organizations around the province, such as the North Shore Black Bear Society, and the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers.
“We look forward to the next chapter, and we hope that becoming a society will help us further our goal of peaceful coexistence with our local wildlife,” she said.
Cooke, the executive director of the society, said the group is going to up their game in terms of public education, with more signs in parks and on trails – places where people are likely to encounter bears.
They offer public information at events, and the group hopes to work with Golden Ears Provincial Park to make campers and hikers more bear aware.
When bears become habituated on garbage and human food, they too often end up being deemed dangerous by the Conservation Officer Service, and can be shot.
She said the CO Service reported just one bear shot in Maple Ridge last year, which was an enormous drop from some years, such as the 14 that were killed in 2019.
“It was a huge improvement, and this year we’re aiming for none,” said Cooke. “It’s going to take much more education, and the city and residents working together.”
They will be able to pay for their materials by raising funds, accepting donations, and applying for grants, for the first time. In the past, the society members have been out of pocket.
“When you’re handing out thousands of pamphlets, it does add up,” she said.
They will also be looking for new members.
“Come with a positive attitude and help wildlife.”
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