Come out to the Wenatchee River Institute’s Red Barn on April 17 and learn about co-existing with large carnivores from Western Wildlife Outreach (WWO).

WWO is a Bellingham nonprofit organization focusing its outreach and education on helping people live, work and recreate near large, wild carnivores — bears, cougars and wolves.

Executive Director Lorna Smith and her husband Darrell Smith, WWO’s lead scientist, frequently give talks and demonstrations around the Pacific Northwest about large carnivore ecology and behavior, providing information on what to do if any of these wild animals are encountered.

“The world needs our top predators. Without them, biodiversity and ecological health suffers,” states Lorna.

Numerous areas in and around the Cascade Range support healthy populations of black bear. WWO promotes safe co-existence among black bears, humans, pets and livestock. The organization’s Grizzly Bear Outreach Project helps disseminate a more accurate understanding of grizzly bear behavior, as well as information about grizzly recovery in the North Cascades and Selkirk ecosystems.

This past winter brought a number of cougar encounters to the upper Wenatchee Valley. WWO’s Cougar Outreach provides educational materials about cougar behavior, habitat needs, their prey base and what to do should you encounter a cougar.

Rich Beausoleil, bear and cougar specialist and Karelian Bear Dog Program lead for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, will also take part in the evening’s presentation. He will be accompanied by his Karelian bear dog, Indy, and answer questions about non-lethal predator aversion, wildlife issues in the Wenatchee Valley and preventing wildlife conflicts. Karelian bear dogs are trained to haze bears and other wild animals from areas where they are not welcome.

Said Beausoleil, “I was just in downtown Leavenworth March 25, because a family of bears was utilizing Enchantment Park due to the amount of attractants people had left out. It is important to understand it is a matter of personal responsibility to avoid conflicts with wildlife.”

WWO’s Gray Wolf Outreach provides current, sound science as well as techniques to successfully co-exist with wolves, and how to employ non-lethal wolf management measures whenever possible. Gray wolf populations are being re-established across the Western United States and since 2008, have come of their own volition north from Canada into Washington state.

The Smiths are a wildlife biologist-ecologist team and have spent their careers working on wildlife and wildlife habitat-related issues, as well as endangered species management. They share a lifelong interest in, and experience with, large carnivores.

Tricia Cook is the administration and communications manager for the Wenatchee River Institute.