Starting today, an inquisitive raccoon will engage, entertain and educate visitors of all ages to Stanley Park’s Prospect Point as part of a summer long park interpretation project delivered by Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES).
SPES has enrolled its newest raccoon recruit – with the help of a human interpreter, of course – to be on hand at Prospect Point to answer questions from visitors about raccoons and other urban wildlife as a new way of limiting human and wildlife conflicts in Stanley Park.
Raccoons are curious and intelligent wild animals that are highly adaptable to living in developed areas near humans. They will take advantage of any available food, including easy meals handed out by Park visitors. Human food is not a healthy staple of their diet and it decreases their fear of humans, which sadly increases their chance of being injured or posing a danger to humans.
David Perry, SPES Eco Ranger Coordinator, says; “Raccoons are highly intelligent creatures and seeing one is often one of the top highlights for any tourist visiting the Park. Our volunteers are getting the chance to use theatricality and often silly characterization to highlight what we can all do to co-exist with raccoons and other urban wildlife.”
The launch of SPES’ raccoon interpretation station is the newest addition to the repertoire of the non-profit’s Eco Ranger program, which is running for the 13th year in a row. Until the Labour Day weekend, volunteer naturalists will share their enthusiasm for Stanley Park’s wildlife and wild spaces with visitors to Vancouver’s world famous urban park.
SPES’ Eco Rangers are a group of volunteers from Canada and abroad (including Kenya, Switzerland, Taiwan Australia, Italy and Belgium) who combined speak no fewer than 15 different languages in addition to English. In the summer months the Eco Rangers work in pairs as roving naturalists in the Park and at interpretive stations at Prospect Point, Beaver Lake, Malkin Bowl and Second Beach, answering visitors’ questions about local animals, plants and cultural history, and providing other important on-the-spot interpretation. One of their main areas of focus is on educating Park visitors on appropriate behaviour in the Park, such as not feeding wildlife. In that way, they complement the Vancouver Park Board’s Park Rangers whose role is it is to ensure compliance with regulations and bylaws.
Eco Rangers rove and operate interpretation stations in Stanley Park every Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4:30 pm – look for the bright green shirts and hats!
The Eco Ranger Program is funded by the Vancouver Park Board and Direct Access Gaming.