Bob Hansen worked for the National Park Warden Service in various Canadian National Parks over a span of 38 years. He was the Human-Wildlife Co-existence Specialist for Pacific Rim National Park Reserve from 1997 – 2012.  His projects include creating the successful Bare Campsite Program and the WildCoast Research Initiative to gain understanding on how to co-exist with large carnivores.

From 2012-2014 he was the Wildlife Deterrent Specialist for Nunavut. In 2017 Bob was back at the park supervising a team of student Wildlife and CoastSmart Ambassadors.

In 2018, he began a new role as the seasonal coordinator of WildSafeBC Pacific Rim. The goal of the program is to “Keep Communities Safe and Wildlife Wild”.

Part of the magic of the West Coast experience is living with an abundance of wildlife like whales, salmon, shorebirds, sea lions, eagles, ravens, deer, river otter, raccoon, cougar, wolves and bears.

Every day, there’s a chance to experience wildlife. We all share this incredible coastal landscape and are all part of its fabric of life. As the Nuu-Chah-Nulth teach “hishuk’ish tsawalk – Everything is One”, the threads are interconnected. We affect each other’s lives.

There are many ways in which people can be stewards of this special place and its wildlife.

Be Aware

Be aware that beaches, shorelines, mudflats, forest and even community greenspace are part of the home for a diversity of wildlife and how we act can affect their lives.

Recently, a visitor went to Mackenzie Beach in the early morning and learned firsthand that beaches are active wolf habitat.

Dogs, Wolves and Other Wildlife

While it’s easy to view beaches as exclusively human and dog playgrounds, they are at the very same time important travel and hunting corridors for wolves. The relationship between dogs and wolves is complex. Wolves can target dogs as prey or as another canine transgressing in their territory. A dog running off-leash is vulnerable, and a chance encounter with a wolf on a beach or trail may have a tragic outcome. The means to ensure your dog’s safety is simple – keep your dog on leash.

This is also true for encounters with bears or cougar.

An unleashed dog is bad news for some birds as well. Chasing shorebirds, gulls and crows on the beach appears to be as irresistible as chasing a thrown ball. This disturbance is significant in the daily lives of birds and other wildlife.  While having most dogs running off-leash negatively impacts wildlife, switching that number to most dogs being on-leash would have a significant positive effect.

Every year, Tofino and Clayoquot Sound welcome thousands of migrating shorebirds. The time they spend feeding on local beaches and mudflats is essential to their survival. Evading dogs can tip the survival balance for the birds. Some species migrate from South America to the Arctic and back again each year!  Experience and learn about this natural phenomenon at the 22nd Annual Shorebird Festival, May 3 – 5th, 2019.

Know What To Do

Be aware of local wildlife activity and know what you can to further co-existence and avoid conflict.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve monitors wildlife activity on a daily basis year-round and provides regular updates. Watch for information at park trailheads and beach accesses and online.

Know what to do if you encounter a bear, wolf or cougar to keep yourself (and dog) safe and to help keep the animals wild and wary. Besides online information and pamphlets the park runs frequent interpretive talks and guided walks that are highly informative and entertaining. Check online for the 2019 schedule.

There is also a variety of information for various species at including links to free downloadable wildlife pamplets, educational videos and many other resources.

Practice Bare Camping 🐻

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is where the Bare Campsite Program was created after park Resource Management Officers had to destroy a bear in 1998. The bear had learned that Greenpoint Campground was, at that time, a place where human food and garbage could be easily acquired.

This Bare Campsite Program has reduced bear problems to almost zero in the 20 years since its inception. The concept is simple. All food, garbage, recycling and other attractants must be inaccessible to bears (and other wildlife) whenever the camper is out of their campsite (even for a few minutes) or asleep in their campsite. This program has proven its effectiveness in saving bears and keeping people safe.

Photo by Jeremy Koreski.

Thanks to the support of Ocean Outfitters, Jamie’s Whaling and Adventure Station, the Wickaninnish Inn, Black Rock Waterfront Resort, the District of Ucluelet, the District of Tofino, the BC Conservation Foundation, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve our region will resume its local WildSafeBC Program starting in May 2019. The local coordinator posts information on the facebook page that is relevant to current wildlife activity like the latest mapping of wildlife activity reported the BC Conservation Service 24/7 RAPP line, 1.877.952.7277.  You can check out local wildlife activity reports yourself by using this link.

There are many opportunities to learn from local experts and to have memorable and educational experiences like guided nature tours, kayak trips, field schools, wildlife watching trips, canoe paddles and interpretive events – just be sure to be WildSafe and enjoy your time on our coast!