By Leah Scheitel
Special to the Pioneer
Wildsight Invermere is hosting an event dedicated to bear awareness in the local areas. The event, titles Ursus and Us, is set for Saturday, June 15 and is meant to be an education event for the community.
Mandi McRobbie, branch manager for Invermere Wildsight, said the event is intended to “help raise awareness about the importance of bears in general as well as how to avoid endangering them and ourselves by managing bear attractants and our behaviour.”
This is the third annual year Wildsight has hosted Ursus and Us in the community and is working with other community leaders to help educate the public on proper bear practices. Alongside Wildsight at Cenotaph Park will be WildSafe BC, B.C. conservation officers, the Invermere Public Library and BlackStar Studios. Each partnering party will add their own family-friendly activities, including hands-on lessons on the proper use and storage of bear spray, demonstrations on relocation procedures and an arts table for kids to design their own bear-themed art.
Ms. McRobbie said the event has grown in attendance every year and is hoping for more with a change in location to the downtown Cenotaph Park. According to Ms. McRobbie, the change in venue is to help “increase the visibility and walkability of the event.”
According to WildSafe BC’s website, residential garbage accounts for 60 per cent of calls regarding black bears from 2014 to 2017. Other attractants include pets and pet food, compost and barbecues. Wildsafe BC will be onsite at Ursus and Us to speak about bear attractants and the best way to manage them.
From April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, local conservation officers responded to roughly 50 calls related to bears. In Invermere, there was 25 calls related to black bears and one for a grizzly bear; there were two calls related to black bears in Windermere; and in Radium there were 19 calls related to black bears and three for grizzly bears. Sergeant Drew Milne from the Columbia-Kootenay Zone Conservation Office said one bear was euthanized in the Fairmont area.
“So looking at the stats from 2018/2019 we can debunk the false beliefs amongst the locals that ‘if they call bear complaints/sightings into the COS the bear will be killed’,” he said.
Ursus and Us is set for June 15th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Cenotaph Park in downtown Invermere. For more information on the event, visit the Wildsight website at Wildsight.ca/events/Invermere_bearday/.