Living with Wildlife in BC

One of the rewards of living in the Okanagan and Similkameen is having iconic wildlife nearby. Through the seasons, our properties are visited by deer, bear, snakes, and a variety of birds and small critters. Many Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship partners have worked hard to conserve and restore wildlife habitats on their land that provide refuge and travel corridors for local wildlife. But there can be occasions when wildlife activity becomes a safety concern or wildlife damage from rodents, deer and bear begins to cost money for repairs or loss of garden, orchard or vineyard crops.

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship black bearIn recent years some wildlife species have adapted to new food sources and the opportunities presented by urban and rural communities so property owners may find that encounters with deer, elk, bear and coyotes have increased over the past decade. “Living with Wildlife in BC” is a series of eight new wildlife management guides written with large land owners and agricultural properties in mind.

The Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society-sponsored publications outline options for wildlife deterrents for species that can be problematic such as rodents, starlings, deer, and bear. They also focus on safety awareness and safety planning for bears, rattlesnakes, cougars, and coyotes. The goal is to reduce wildlife that becomes habituated to human activity areas, which in turn, results in fewer wildlife deaths. The guides cover key species that can be challenging to manage or cause safety concerns: coyotes and wolves, starlings, rodents, bears, cougars, snakes, and ungulates (deer, elk and sheep). Managing the attractants that draw wildlife into our yards and encourages them to stay is a fundamental first step in wildlife management. Unfortunately with the increased number of non-native species moving into our region such as the Black Rat, European Starling, Fox and Grey Squirrel, we need to be more careful with composting, feeding birds, and storing animal feed and seed. Bird feeders, including seed feeders, suet and hummingbird nectar, can attract deer, elk, bear and rodents so careful attention is needed to the style and placement of feeders.

Starling Nest Cavity
Photo: L Neish
The Wildlife Conflict Reduction Guide encourages property owners and farmers who are responsible for the safety and training of employees to conduct a wildlife assessment of buildings and properties. The guide covers wildlife in buildings, compost and waste management, options for wildlife fencing and gates, predator and bird deterrents, and where to go for supplies and further information. Assessing the cost and benefits of fencing and electric fencing is outlined as well as several different
designs to modify existing fences.

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship rattlesnake
Western Rattlesnakes
Photo: M Nitsch
Out of ten species of snakes in British Columbia only one is venomous and most are considered threatened
or vulnerable. Snakes need our support and play a vital role in rodent control. The Western Rattlesnake is a shy snake that prefers to keep away from human activity but will pass through or live in areas that offer prey and cover habitat. Snake habitat has been greatly reduced and roads and developed areas bisect snake travel corridors. The snake management guide provides tips on identifying snakes and being aware of how to live and work safely in snake country.

Living With Wildlife in BC Series, 

     ~sponsored by Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society

Living with Wildlife: Bears
Living with Wildlife: Cougars
Living with Wildlife: Coyotes & Wolves
Living with Wildlife: Rodents
Living with Wildlife: Snakes
Living with Wildlife: Starlings
Living with Wildlife: Ungulates
Living with Wildlife: Conflict Reduction Guide