Reducing Conflict Where We Live
WildSafeBC strives to learn and to share about how we can reduce human-wildlife conflicts in all of our day-to-day activities. We must all think about how we live, work, play and grow with respect to wildlife.
Where and how we “LIVE” is one of the greatest opportunities and challenges for reducing human-wildlife conflict. Our homes and yards are where we spend the bulk of our time and it is here that we are most protective of ‘our’ space. It is also where we create so many attractants and opportunities for wildlife to get into conflict with us.
For some species, it is just a matter of removing the attractant – such as securing our garbage from bears. For other species, it is much more complicated, especially for animals like deer where your whole yard becomes an attractant: if it is vegetation and a deer is hungry enough, it’ll probably eat it.
A general approach to wildlife conflicts where you live is to go over in your mind:
1. Is there something that is bringing the wildlife into my living space?
a. Is it food– can I remove the food or can I make it inaccessible (as with the installation of a fence – electric or otherwise)?
b. Is it shelter – does my landscaping provide cover for the animal? Can the landscaping be altered to minimize the benefit to the wildlife?
c. Are they after my livestock or pets – is there another way I can manage these to minimize their exposure to predation?
2. Is the wildlife just passing through?
a. Maybe your yard is in the path or a travel route for rattlesnakes or bears – is there opportunity to accommodate the well-behaved traveler or is fencing needed?
b. Remember not all wildlife that passes through your living space is necessarily a problem.
3. Is there something that is forcing the wildlife into my area?
a. Usually external factors such as disturbance to existing habitats are beyond an individual’s ability to deal with but you can approach local officials to see what they can do.
b. Maybe it is a temporary phenomenon such as a drought or severe winter – Are there strategies that you can employ that will allow the wildlife to survive but not become habituated or food-conditioned in your area?
4. Is the wildlife in my living space just a feature or is it a ‘problem’ or could it become a problem?
a. Not all wildlife that we come into contact with needs to be regarded as a problem. Urban coyotes, when left alone, can still hunt rodents and thrive in the urban setting. As long as people do not feed the coyotes, or habituate them to the point where they lose their natural fear of humans, and we keep our small pets indoors, co-existing with coyotes is quite possible. Coyotes that are fed by humans or lose their fear of humans and start to target pets as prey can be a real concern.
b. Deer, if just moving through an area can be nice to see – but deer that become urbanized and grow unchecked in numbers can become a real issue in terms of property damage and in terms of personal safety.
c. Understanding of how wildlife can shift from being something nice to see or experience to something that is a real threat to human safety and/or property is not always easy. Hindsight usually lets us see when the wildlife became a problem but by then it is often too late. Your best strategy is to think about what the long term outcomes could be from your present interactions with wildlife.