Since its inception as the Jennifer Jones Whistler Bear Foundation in 1995, the Get Bear Smart Society has been working hard to make Whistler, the South Coast, and the rest of British Columbia a safer place for both bears and people.
Despite the fact the number of human-bear interactions reported each year in the Whistler area has increased four-fold over the last decade, the number of bears that are destroyed has been cut in half.
While there is still a lot of work to be done to make Whistler a truly Bear Smart community, this is a dramatic improvement over the 1980s and 1990s, and everyone who has helped to make it happen should be proud.
Here is a small sample of what else we have accomplished over the last 13 years.
Bear Smart Education
Two years in the making, Bear-ology, a treasure-trove of bear facts, tales and trivia, was published in early 2009. Order your copy today! In 2010, we released a second book A Whistler Bear Story is an unbeatable combination of incredible photography and thought-provoking writing. For more information, click here.
Tens of thousands of Bear Smart advertisements and public service announcements have played on radio and TV stations and appeared in magazines and telephone directories in B.C. and across North America, reaching hundreds of thousands of people who live, play and work in bear country.
Thousands of magnets, bumper stickers, kids booklets, and more than 100,000 decks of Bear Smart playing cards, each with tips for staying safe in bear country or bruin trivia, have been distributed across North America, educating bear lovers and providing a much-needed source of revenue for GBS.
Seven different Bear Smart guides have been developed for a variety of important audiences. Distributed to hundreds of people, these guides help police officers, conservation officers, bear managers, home builders, businesses, and residents keep bears and people safe by reducing or managing human-bear conflicts.
Non-lethal Bear Management
Every year, Get Bear Smart staff and board members deliver Bear Smart training courses and workshops to a wide variety of audiences. From Bear Smart presentations at Whistler schools and hotels to bear safety courses for businesses and agencies whose staff work in bear country, these entertaining and informative programs teach people how to prevent human-bear conflicts — and how to safely resolve them when they do occur.
Regular training sessions teach bear managers, conservation officers and police officers across B.C. and throughout North America how to use non-lethal bear management techniques to improve public safety, reduce property damage and minimize bear deaths.
GBS has helped municipalities, conservation officers and the RCMP adopt non-lethal bear management as the default response to human-bear conflicts in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor and Lower Mainland from Coquitlam to Pemberton.
Bear Smart Communities
Along with our ongoing educational efforts, GBS has provided communities and government agencies across North America — Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Colorado, Nevada and more — with advice and training about how to improve their efforts to implement Bear Smart programs at home.
Bear Smart Whistler
Helping residents, visitors and businesses make Whistler a model Bear Smart community that ensures the safety of both people and bears is at the heart of our work. Highlights include:
- Bear Smart displays and booths at public events in and around Whistler teach residents and visitors alike how to safely and respectfully co-exist with the local black bear population.
- Provided funding and expertise to bear-proof the community's waste management system, from the landfill and waste transfer station to the garbage bins at homes and businesses, and in public spaces.
- Worked with the local government to write and pass an attractant management bylaw and a conflict prevention plan.
- Founded and continue to co-chair the Whistler Bear Working Group, a multi-stakeholder collaborative effort that helps to minimize human-bear conflicts in the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
- Successfully introduced non-lethal bear management to Whistler and the rest of the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, including annual training for conservation, RCMP, and bylaw enforcement officers in the region.
- Encouraged the B.C. government to send orphaned cubs of conflict mothers to rehabilitation facilities and re-release them into the wild rather than simply destroying them. At least five cubs have been returned safely to the wild since 2007.