Bear Smart at work and in the field
Whether you're building a subdivision in bear habitat or drilling an oil well, or you're simply operating a business in a place where bears live, how you and your employees operate can have an impact the health of the local bear population. It only takes one food reward for a bear to learn that humans are a source of easy, high calorie meals, beginning a cycle of conflict that begins and ends with the death of the bear.
Read MPERG's and the Yukon Department of Environment's Guidelines for Industrial Activity in Bear Country, which provides best practices for minimizing the impacts of industrial activity on bears. Or watch the Working in Bear Country video produced especially for industry managers and supervisors.
Here's how you can make your workplace safe for people and bears.
- For large work sites, conduct a bear hazard assessment and develop (and implement) a human-bear conflict management plan that will keep employees and bears safe. Develop a bear-response plan that details how to respond to the presence of a bear.
- Hire or designate one person to be the on-site bear safety officer. This person should be well-trained to avoid and deal with human-bear conflicts, particularly the use of non-lethal deterrents.
- Train all employees and contractors about how to behave in bear country. Everyone working in bear habitat should understand how and why bears behave and know how to react to an encounter or attack. If you're working in grizzly country, ensure you and your staff can tell the difference between a black and a grizzly bear. Everyone should be familiar with the bear-response plan and what their role is in implementing it should a bear arrive.
- The easiest way to keep bears out of facilities and work camps is to surround them with electric fencing. Portable electric fences are an inexpensive and easy way to keep people and bears safe.
- Secure all potential bear attractants. Whether you're operating a large work camp or camping overnight in the field, all garbage and food must be stored securely. Landfills, transfer stations, garbage storage areas and food storage/preparation areas should be secured with an electric fence. Smaller garbage and food storage units should be bear-proof.
- All employees working in bear habitat should carry bear spray as a first line of defence. Bear spray has been found to be much more effective - and safer - than firearms. Click here to see the report.
- Consider prohibiting employees from carrying firearms. Bear safety officer(s) and/or local conservation officer can deal with habituated and/or food-conditioned bears use non-lethal deterrents.
NOTE: The Canadian Criminal Code (Section 217.1) states that "Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task." For this reason, proper training is recommended for all those working in bear country. See our courses on Working in Bear Country.
For more information, see our brochures on Working in Bear Country and Best Practices Guide for Business. Consider getting the excellent Staying Safe in Bear Country and Working in Bear Country videos.
Bear Safety Guide for Tree Planters - English or French Version
As a tree planter working in prime bear habitat, you have a greater probability of encountering a bear. This pamphlet outlines information essential to your safety.
Construction Site Managers - See this article for more tips.