Tag Archives: Bear Aware

Connecting the Dots: Forestry Management And Some Implications For Wildlife

In the first of a series of articles from Cortes Islands recent Wildlife Coexistence Gathering, Cortes Currents looked at Vancouver Island’s first wildlife coexistence program in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The problem at that time was human/bear conflicts. By the time Sabina Leader Mense reached out from Cortes Island, in 2009, Bear Aware (later renamed WildSafeBC) had been dealing with wolves and cougars for more than a decade. 

Bob Hansen, Pacific Rim Coordinator for WildSafeBC, described the wolves’ sudden appearance. 

“Up until this point in time, it was bears and nothing but bears.  In 1998/99, the wolves showed up after being missing from our area for  decades.  Their presence was very dramatically felt.  I remember getting a phone call from the local paper in January of 1999,  ‘have you been getting wolf reports?’ I checked our database, and we’d had  six wolf reports since 1972.  I said, ‘nope.’ Within two weeks it started, the wolves were back.” 

Hansen suspects that modern forestry methods may be at least partially responsible for the influx of wolves and cougars into his area. 

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The First Wildlife Coexistence program on Vancouver Island

Around 40 people turned out for the Wildlife Coexistence Gathering on Cortes Island. This was an opportunity for Cortesians to meet some of the extended community of advisors  to the local program and learn more about our three top predators: grey wolf, black bear and cougar. The gathering was organized and hosted by Sabina Leader Mense and Georgina Silby from the Cortes Community Wolf Project. It began with a welcoming ceremony in the Klahoose All Purpose Building on Friday, April 5. There was an all day teaching series in the Linnaea Education Centre the following day. The gathering ended with a walk through the wildlife travel corridor in Hank’s Beach Forest Conservation Park on Sunday, April 7.  

Sabina Leader Mense emailed, “We celebrated our cultural relationships to our wild kin with the Klahoose First Nations singers & drummers and our guests Grace SoftDeer from the Chickasaw First Nation and Dennis Hetu from the Toquaht First Nation. We then explored our social and ecological relationships with our wild kin in formal and informal presentations by our invited guests, Bob Hansen, Pacific Rim Coordinator for WildSafeBC and Todd Windle, Coordinator for the Wild About Wolves Project.

Cortes Currents recorded most of the sessions at Linnaea and has arranged the material in a series of articles. This is an abridged version of the segment in which Bob Hansen talked about the origins of Vancouver Island’s first wildlife coexistence program. Years later it became the model for Cortes Island’s program, and Hansen was one of Sabina Leader Mense’s mentors.

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