We are very excited to announce that the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project has changed its name to Western Wildlife Outreach (WWO). The new name is a reflection of the expansion of our human and carnivore coexistence programs to include four large carnivore species, grizzly bears, black bears, cougars and gray wolves. You can find us online at our new website address: westernwildlife.org, or you can continue to use bearinfo.org. Either way, you will arrive at the same place, our new home page with our updated logo and look.
The decision to go with a new name did not come easily. After all, we have been the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project for 10 successful years, and the name is known and respected here in the Northwest and across the country. However, our growing success with education and outreach programs revolving around the 4 large carnivore species meant a new name was necessary to reflect our expanded program areas.
As you navigate and browse through the new website, please be sure to visit the new pages for our four key species. You will see that we are not losing the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project; we are gaining the Black Bear Outreach Project, the Cougar Outreach Project and the Gray Wolf Outreach Project! Our new logo still features the iconic grizzly bear, representing all apex carnivores and serves as a “familiar face” to remind us of our beginnings.
Chris Morgan, our Founder and Senior Advisor, with help from several other dedicated bear enthusiasts, established The Grizzly Bear Outreach Project ten years ago in Okanogan County. GBOP was formed in response to a need identified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) for an outreach and education program based on sound science related to grizzly bears and the plan for their recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem. Grizzly bears in the Selkirk Ecosystem were included shortly thereafter. Recovery plans for endangered species like the Grizzly Bear are a requirement of the federal Endangered Species Act. The need for outreach efforts are becoming ever-more critical as the grizzly bear proceeds down a slow path to population recovery.
A major part of Western Wildlife Outreach’s efforts will remain focused on promoting bear smart approaches for communities, recreationalists, hunters, students, businesses and others. We have staff in the communities most likely to be affected by Grizzly Bear recovery around the North Cascades and Selkirk Ecosystems. They listen to their neighbors concerns, meet with them one-on-one as well as in small and large groups, and find the best way to be provide accurate information on grizzly bear biology and behavior as well tips for bear-smart coexistence. These activities will remain the focus for the new Grizzly Bear Outreach Project under the Western Wildlife Outreach umbrella.
In developing outreach programs for grizzly bears, preventing negative encounters with black bears became imperative in order to set the stage for grizzly bear/human coexistence in the future. Today, in Washington it is still extremely rare to encounter a grizzly bear, but black bear populations are stable and healthy. If we can accustom and educate audiences on how to safely coexist with black bears, we can reduce obstacles to grizzly bear recovery as well. No matter the species, “a fed bear is a dead bear”. So, a primary goal remains preventing bear exposure to human provided foods of any kind. The Black Bear Outreach Project will focus on growing the “Bear Smart“ Communities program and working with campgrounds, communities, refuse companies and individuals to constantly increase awareness of the need to separate and wisely store human-provided food so that black bears are not exposed to it, and do not become habituated to human-provided food sources.
The Cougar Outreach Project focuses on providing better understanding of cougars and their behavior as our region experiences more and more residential encroachment into existing cougar habitat. Through our outreach an education efforts such as school programs and partnerships with the Washington Department of Wildlife and the Woodland Park Zoo, we will continue to expand our ability to reach a greater community with a “Be Cougar Smart” message. Our newly released public service announcement focuses on common sense precautions to take when living and recreating in cougar country featuring founder Chris Morgan. Also, cougar door hangers are available now and a new cougar brochure is in the final review process.
The Gray Wolf Outreach Project addresses the many misconceptions about these magnificent animals and the role they play in the ecosystem. As gray wolves make their way back into Washington State and disperse across the landscape, conflicts will arise with ranchers and hobby farmers, in particular. Western Wildlife Outreach has recently embarked on two new partnership initiatives to reach the greatest number of potentially affected communities within the predicted range to be occupied by the returning wolves. Project W.O.L.F.F. (Wildlife Observational Learning and Fieldwork Fundamentals) is a carnivore classroom education pilot project in the Yakima Basin partnered by Western Wildlife Outreach, the Woodland Park Zoo, the Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Another cooperative project is in the formative stages between WWO, Fish and Wildlife and WSU — a training project for extension office field representatives and others on non-lethal wolf control measures that ranchers can employ.
In spite of name changes and new projects, much will remain the same under Western Wildlife Outreach as it was under the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project. Our information rich, high quality brochures, pamphlets, posters and PSAs will remain a central part of our outreach efforts to people and communities coexisting with carnivores, and we will continue our successful approach of meeting with individuals and large groups alike to provide science-based, educational information on bears, wolves and cougars.