Completing a Bear Hazard Assessment
Figuring Out Where the Problems Are
The first step is to figure out exactly what (and where) the problems are. Conducting a preliminary bear hazard assessment will provide a general but community-specific overview of human-bear conflicts in and adjacent to the community. A comprehensive preliminary bear hazard assessment should:"Bears are often needlessly killed, not for what they have done, but for what people think they might do. Many people unjustifiably fear bears, and still believe they cannot survive where humans exist. This is a fallacy." - Gary Alt, bear biologist as quoted in Living with Bears, by Linda Masterson
- Identify sites, areas, trails, and practices that have historic, existing and potential levels of human-bear conflict.
- Identify gaps in the existing knowledge of bear use and human-bear conflict in the area and provide recommendations for further investigation and additional hazard assessment phases.
- Develop management recommendations to reduce existing and potential conflict within the community.
Preliminary bear hazard assessments should be comprised of several key components. For more information on conducting an effective preliminary bear hazard assessment, please refer to sections 6 and 7 in B.C.'s Bear Smart Community Program - Background Report, or download Ontario's Bear Wise Community Hazard Assessment Outline. The Bow Valley BHA.
They should also be completed or approved by a registered professional biologist with expertise in bear ecology and behaviour and human-bear conflicts. We recommend Wayne McCrory, who has over 25 years of experience conducting bear research, completing bear hazard assessments, and developing human-bear conflict management plans. He can be reached at (250) 358-7796 or waynem (at) vws.org.