The Grizzly Bear Study has kicked off to a busy start in 2022 with a number of activities including the Simpcw First Nation Community Engagement Session, Wilderness First Aid, and Wildlife Awareness Training. The project team has completed Wilderness and Remote First Aid at the Simpcw Hatchery Pit House and surrounding forest. Twelve individuals took part in the training, including six Simpcw First Nation community members and six other SRG/Estsék’ team members. The course was a long but informative 40 hours, teaching the team how to prepare for emergencies in remote settings. The course included Standard First Aid, CPR, AED, and basic shelter construction.

The project team took part in a combined e-learning and in-person workshop with the BC Conservation Foundation Wild Safe program by taking the Wildlife Awareness and Safety Course (Level 1) and the Bear Spray Workshop (Level 2). Nine Estsék’ team members took part in this training along with five members of the Simpcw Language and Culture team. The course provided in-depth knowledge about wildlife species we may come in conflict with while working in the outdoors in BC. The bear spray workshop provided an opportunity for the team to practice removing the spray (inert for practice session) from its holster and discharging it. While bear spray is an effective tool in wildlife conflict situations, it is only safe and effective with practice and knowledge of how and when to use and transport it.

The Simpcw Community Engagement Session took place virtually in early Spring with Senior Wildlife Biologist Ralph Heinrich from Estsék’ providing an informative overview of the study and leading a shared discussion about the project and grizzlies in the Territory.  Marie Bartlett, a graphic illustrator, created a beautiful illustration of events discussed during the event. We hope that this is the first of many discussions about the grizzly bear studies held within Simpcw Territory. Next steps for the project include finalizing the habitat suitability, site selection for each site station and survey plot, and completing field protocols and procedures. Field season for the study will be commencing in May, once bears have moved out of their winter dens and up looking for food. The field portion of the project will run from May until snowfall in early October. The team hopes to initiate a Simpcw Field Day sometime during the summer for community members to join in on a field trip to check one of the stations. The environmental team is working on organizing a Grizzly Bear Ceremony specifically for the project.