Bear Smart Whistler
The resort community of Whistler is home to the Get Bear Smart Society, 10,000 residents, more than two million annual visitors, and about 100 black bears. This is where the rubber hits the road.
Over the last decade, GBS has taken a leadership role in Whistler’s ongoing transformation into a Bear Smart community. GBS has worked collaboratively with the RCMP, bear biologists, town officials, provincial conservation officers and bear managers, community and business leaders, waste management service providers, and concerned residents.
In particular, GBS has invested heavily in public education, conducting extensive advertising campaigns, writing informative columns in community newspapers, and designed and erected interpretive signage. GBS staff and volunteers get out in the community to give public and corporate BearSmart presentations and train law enforcement officials and bear managers how to use non-lethal bear management options such as aversive conditioning. In collaboration with the Whistler Bear Working Group, we also work on waste management issues and bylaw enforcement.
Public support for our program has been overwhelming. Although Whistler is an official BearSmart community, there is still much room for improvement. The work done in Whistler over the years illustrates what can be accomplished by implementing BearSmart policies and practices — the number of conflict bears that have been killed has been reduced by over 50 per cent over the last decade despite the fact the number of human-bear interactions has increased four-fold.
This makes Whistler a leader in the growing movement to establish BearSmart communities wherever humans and bears co-exist.
Whistler becomes an official BearSmart Community
The RMOW successfully completed the criteria established by the BC Ministry of Environment to become a Bear Smart Community in September of 2011. British Columbia's Bear Smart Community Program was developed to be a proactive response to increased numbers of conflicts between people and bears. The program has two phases: the problem analysis phase and the solution/implementation phase.
Read more here.