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WildSafeBC program expanding across Tofino - Ucluelet region

WildSafeBC’s Pacific Rim chapter is hiring a new full-time coordinator
WildSafeBC Pacific Rim is adding to its team with a new year-round position to help West Coast keep wildlife wild and communities safe.

The West Coast’s ability to live in harmony with wildlife is set for a significant boost.

WildSafeBC’s Pacific Rim chapter is hiring a new, full-time coordinator that will allow for the long awaited expansion to a year-round program.

Chapter coordinator Bob Hansen told the Westerly News that local governments, First Nations, businesses and organizations  have “really stepped up” to support and expand the program, making funding the new position possible.

“It’s been a hill to climb for sure, getting all the financial commitments in place,” Hansen said. “This year, we’re poised to take a real significant step forward.”

The position carries an expected salary of $28 an hour for 30 hours a week and will initially operate on a one-year contract, though Hansen hopes to see it evolve into a formalized, long-term, year-round, full-time position.

“We’re hoping to attract someone locally here that really has a passion and interest to grow the program and provide even more services to the West Coast,” Hansen said.

“The work is there to be done…This year will really allow us to expand what we’re able to offer the community and really grow and expand all our working relationships to keep the communities safe and animals wild so it’s a pretty exciting next page.”

The program is entering its seventh year on the West Coast and has traditionally run from April - October with two coordinators, one serving Tofino - Ucluelet and the other serving Hitacu, Toquaht and Electoral Area C.

Hansen said the year-round position will make it possible to proactively come up with wildlife management strategies as well as work with businesses and organizations to ensure best practices as well as promote WildSafeBC’s Business Pledge program.

“There’s so much that we could be doing proactively in terms of coming up with strategies,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to do in the middle of bear season when we’re so busy dealing with what’s happening day to day. If we have the ability to work in the winter when there’s more time for the businesses and ourselves to sit down and really develop our working relationship and to work on things like staff training and infrastructure improvements and just coming up with a game plan with a particular business that wants to become a wildsafe business, that’s going to be way more feasible in the winter.”

He said the new coordinator will also be able to work with local governments to flesh out communication and education campaigns as well as collaborate on initiatives.

He also hopes to see the new position work with local schools during the winter months and that operating over the winter could bring WildSafeBC’s ranger program to local students.

“It really opens the door to new activities for the program and expanding our existing activities. It’s a big step,” he said.

He noted WildSafeBC recently worked with the District of Tofino on a new Wildlife Attractant Bylaw that has officially been put in place and he hopes to see Ucluelet adopt a similar bylaw in the near future.

“That really adds a lot of new tools to the tool kit for the district of Tofino to work proactively to prevent conflicts with wildlife, but also to resolve situations if they’re particularly serious. They now have additional tools that they can use to resolve a situation,” he said.

He added the current strategy is to keep the two part time coordinators on staff to assist the full-time position during the busier summer months.

“That would bring the team for the region up to one full time and two part time people and cover the entire region from Barkley Sound to Clayoquot Sound,” he said, adding he plans to step aside and let the new team carry the program forward, but will be in place to support the year-round person for the first few months before shifting to a more part time role focused on specific initiatives, like electric fencing.

“I really want to do everything I can to ensure the momentum of the program continues. It’s growing year-to-year-to-year and last year was a real milestone year. We really want to see all those gains built on this year,” he said. “I think we’re in a real good place where we could really turn the corner in a big way in terms of our ability to prevent conflicts with our wildlife neighbours.”

Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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