The resort community of Whistler is home to the Get Bear Smart Society (GBS), 10,000 residents, more than two million annual visitors, about 50 black bears, as well as a few grizzlies in the surrounding area. This is where the rubber hits the road.
For over two decades, GBS has taken a leadership role in Whistler’s ongoing transformation to become a Bear Smart community. GBS has worked collaboratively with town officials, provincial conservation officers and bear managers, community and business leaders, waste management service providers, the RCMP, bear biologists, environmental organizations and concerned residents.
In particular, GBS has invested heavily in public education, conducting extensive outreach campaigns, writing informative columns in community newspapers, and designing and erecting interpretive signage. GBS staff and volunteers get out in the community to give public and corporate BearSmart presentations. We strongly encourage law enforcement officials and bear managers to use non-lethal bear management options. In collaboration with the Whistler’s Bear Advisory Committee, we also work on waste management issues and bylaw enforcement.
Public support for our program has been extraordinary. The Resort Municipality of Whistler (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.
Although Whistler is an official BearSmart community, there is still much room for improvement as well as ongoing programming. The results achieved in Whistler over the years illustrate what can be accomplished by implementing BearSmart policies and practices.
This makes Whistler a leader in the growing movement to establish BearSmart communities wherever humans and bears co-exist.