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Bearsmart Blog

Building a Bear Smart Movement

Whistler, Banff, Canmore. Every successful Bear Smart effort has been driven by local people who care about their communities and the bears they share them with.

“Conflicts between humans and bears have escalated in central Florida over the past five years. The scope and magnitude of these conflicts extend beyond the responsibilities and capabilities of any one agency; handling these problems requires cooperation among multiple agencies and organizations.” – Carolyn Sekerak, Wildlife Biologist, Ocala National Forest as quoted in Living with Bears, by Linda Masterson

The most successful examples of building Bear Smart communities have been collaborations between the many stakeholders who can contribute to the solutions necessary to manage bear attractants – municipal and state/provincial and federal governments; bear and waste managers; town planners; hunters and recreationists; and nonprofit organizations focused on keeping bears and people safe in local communities.

Although building a Bear Smart community requires the cooperation of many institutions and organizations, it is often the local, community-based nonprofit Bear Smart organizations that are the driving force for change. Inspired by the desire to prevent unnecessary bear deaths and make their communities safer, passionate people band together to create the community infrastructure to bring about positive change for both bears and people. It may be informal at first – a few meetings in someone’s living room or the local coffee shop – but it inevitably grows and matures into a local organization that is essential to the successful transition to a Bear Smart community.

Local Bear Smart organizations often become the impetus for building Bear Smart communities. They play an essential role in educating community members and visitors, and they usually take the lead to convince government officials to conduct bear-hazard assessments, develop human-bear conflict management plans, and invest in bear-proof waste management systems.

Help us build a movement of Bear Smart individuals and communities who are committed to managing our affairs in ways that don’t put bears (and people) at risk.

FIRST….bear-proof your own home, then help your neighbours do the same.

Work with local government officials to ensure your community has done everything it can do to secure attractants from bears.

Aspen resident Maureen Hirsch, on a rash of human-bear conflicts in Aspen and other Colorado towns: “This is a people problem,” she said. “It’s not a bear problem.”Most of all, collaborate with other like-minded people across Canada and the United States to share inspiration and hope – and to create an undeniable groundswell of support for bears and bear smartness that will allow people and bears to coexist forever.

See if there’s a Bear Smart organization in your community. If there’s not, consider starting one of your own today!


The Just Enough Planning Guide™is also an excellent resource. Based on findings from a comprehensive search to find the perfect approach to campaign planning, Just Enough was developed to help nonprofit organizations create winning policy campaigns, issue campaigns, corporate campaigns or public education campaigns. Click here to find out more.

DownloadOrganize to Win“. A Grassroots Activists’ Handbook to help people organize community campaigns.

Animal Welfare Education and Sentience – A webpage created by WAP (World Animal Protection) which provides information and resources about animal protection from around the world. Their library contains resources about a variety of animal welfare issues, as well as topics about managing animal protection organisations.

Take away lessons from this TED talk, while you watch a movement happen, start to finish, in less than 3 minutes.