The Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities Coalition recently announced the unveiling of a new website that will provide local residents and visitors with information about how to live safely with wildlife, including species commonly involved in human-wildlife conflict such as mountain lions and black bears. The new website can be found at www.wrvwildlifesmart.org.
Mountain lions are frequently seen throughout the Wood River Valley
Human - wildlife conflict is characterized as any negative interaction between wild animals and humans. Most often, conflicts occur when growing human populations overlap with wildlife habitat, creating competition for space and resources. These conflicts can take many forms including loss of life or injury to humans and wild animals, or depredation on livestock and household pets by wildlife.
Kaz Thea, Hailey City Council President commented “This website is a great tool for residents and visitors alike to learn more about how to live with wildlife and ways in which we can act to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. It’s both informative and educational, providing steps residents can take around their homes or while out on trails to reduce conflict that often ends poorly for wildlife. I’ve been an active member of this group since its inception with a goal to help our residents better understand how our actions and the actions of our pets can impact wildlife.”
The Wildlife Smart Communities Coalition recognizes the importance of wildlife to the citizens of the Wood River Valley, the environment and the local economy, and are committed to working together to ensure that wildlife stays wild, while keeping residents, visitors, pets and wildlife safe.
Partners in the Coalition include the communities of Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Bellevue, Blaine County Commissioners, Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Conservation League, Sawtooth National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, Clear Creek Disposal and numerous individuals from throughout the Wood River Valley.
“The Coalition is a partnership that gets things done,” said Mayor Neil Bradshaw. “I hope the community will take advantage of the important information on the Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities website. All of the partners have gone above and beyond on this project.”
The Wildlife Smart Communities Coalition came about in 2019 after a long history of human-wildlife conflicts throughout the Wood River Valley. The conflicts centered on black bears becoming food conditioned after gaining access to residential garbage, sometimes resulting in bears having to be euthanized. Increasing sightings and incidents with mountain lions, some of which resulted in fatal attacks on pets, also galvanized the need for a concerted effort to provide educational tools to the public.
Residential garbage left unsecured can attract black bears into neighborhoods
“Many times, folks don’t know that their actions can directly or indirectly result in human-wildlife conflicts,” according to Sierra Robatcek, Regional Wildlife Biologist with Fish and Game, “our goal is to provide timely information so that we can reduce conflicts by asking residents to change their behavior that will keep them, their pets and wildlife safe.”
The website design and development was made possible by a grant from the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation.