Who We Are
Get Bear Smart is a collaboration of staff, board members, advisors, partners and supporters in British Columbia, Montana and the U.S., and across North America. Together, we are helping to create a paradigm shift in people’s attitudes toward bears, which will allow bears and people to coexist in harmony.
Get Bear Smart is fortunate to have the support of several advisors who provide a broad range of expertise.
Sylvia Dolson - past Executive Director, Get Bear Smart Society, BC, Canada
Sylvia was the Executive Director of the Get Bear Smart Society from 1996 to 2022. She was a key player in establishing Whistler as British Columbia’s leading Bear Smart community and worked for many years to expand the Society’s many educational and training programs throughout BC and beyond.
She also co-chaired Whistler’s Black Bear Task Team/Bear Advisory Committee, which established and implemented a Black Bear Management Plan for the municipality of Whistler, BC. The plan was developed to minimize human-bear conflicts through effective waste management, extensive educational programs, rigorous enforcement and a non-lethal bear management program.
She was the major catalyst in building partnerships and alliances with key stakeholders. She has worked diligently to ensure bear-friendly management policies and to bear-proof Whistler’s waste management system. She worked tirelessly as an advocate on behalf of bears as well as the watchdog to ensure policies and management actions reflect the bear’s best interests.
She has authored many educational materials, including a non-lethal bear management training manual – Responding to Human-Bear Conflicts – that has been used as a reference by police officers and wildlife agencies throughout North America. In addition to her books A Whistler Bear Story, BEAR~OLOGY: Fascinating Bear Facts, Tales & Trivia, and Joy of Bears.
As a wildlife photographer and freelance writer, Sylvia spends much of her free time in the company of wildlife, observing and photographing their natural behaviour in the wild.
Sylvia’s vision is and always will be for a greater coexistence — one in which people and wildlife live in harmony.
“I don’t want to protect wildlife, I want to inspire a world where wildlife does not need protecting”.
Lesley Fox - Executive Director, The Fur-Bearers, BC, Canada
Lesley Fox is the executive director for The Fur-Bearers and is passionate about animal advocacy and social justice issues.
She is a certified Humane Education Specialist through the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education (NAHEE) and graduated with honours from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Public Relations, Marketing Communications and Non-Profit Management. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Royal Roads University.
Lesley lives with her partner on Vancouver Island on the traditional territories of the Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations.
Carrie Hunt — Bear conflict and bear shepherding
Carrie Hunt is a bear biologist who has worked with government agencies and private groups around the world for over 30 years.
Hunt is known for her pioneering work in the area of human-bear conflict resolution, and in particular for her work on modifying wild bear behaviour through the use of repellents, deterrents and conditioning. She tested the use of the red pepper spray system that today is widely used to deter approaching bears. She also conducted the first investigations of aversively conditioning wild, free-ranging grizzly bears with so-called problem behaviours.
Hunt founded and directs the Wind River Bear Institute (WRBI) and its programs: the Partners-In-Life Program and Wind River Karelian Bear Dogs. Hunt developed the concept of ‘bear shepherding’ that simultaneously teaches humans to prevent conflicts and teaches so-called ‘problem’ bears to avoid humans and developed sites.
WRBI was the first group to use aversive conditioning to teach bears by pairing human voices with rubber bullets and barking dogs. These are the same modern training techniques that are used to train dolphins and dogs. WRBI has demonstrated through its work that bears do learn and retain this training.
Hunt also identified and developed the use of, and training methods for, Karelian bear dogs (KBDs) as wildlife service dogs to assist in bear conservation.
WRBI has successfully trained and used KBDs for bear shepherding since 1990.
Click here for more information on training KBDs.
Evelyn Kirkaldy — Design and artistic support
Evelyn is an exceptional fine artist, graphic designer and illustrator and has earned a diploma as a wildlife technician. She has taught design, illustration and fine art to adults as well as children, but for over 25 years, she has been especially passionate about teaching people about bears.
Evelyn’s design skills are regularly employed to create educational material for the Get Bear Smart Society. She wrote, illustrated and designed the educational activity book, Bear Smart Kids: A Book to Make You Smarter than the Average Bear, created an extensive collection of educational Bear Smart cartoons and illustrated the very popular book Bear-ology, written by Sylvia Dolson, past executive director of the Get Bear Smart Society. Her extensive body of fine art includes dramatic and heartwarming images of bears and their natural habitat.
Evelyn has been teaching bear awareness since 1996. She began by giving bear safety workshops in various wilderness camps and served as camp bear safety coordinator with several outdoor organizations, including the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
As a founding member and spokesperson of the North Shore Black Bear Task Team in North Vancouver, she was instrumental in the declaration of the first annual Bear Awareness Week in 2000, coordinating the week’s activities.
She also assisted the Village of Lion’s Bay’s Black Bear Task Team in launching their bear smart community plans and provided advice to several other lower mainland and BC communities for their initiatives. As a board member for the Society for Bear Protection and Relocation in West Vancouver, she served as spokesperson and director of education.
In 2003, as chair of the Kootenay Chapter of the Get Bear Smart Society, Evelyn collaborated with city officials to launch Nelson’s first annual Bear Smart week and then worked to foster coexistence with bears as Coordinator of the Slocan Valley Bear Smart Program for the Valhalla Wilderness Society until 2018.
Evelyn now resides in Powell River and will be continuing to promote Bear Smart coexistence in her new community.
Get Bear Smart ensures broad community participation by involving all stakeholders in the planning, management and implementation of our programs.