by Linda Masterson
If bears could read, I would have written Living with People, so they’d understand that failing to figure out how to peacefully coexist with the humans could cost them their lives. Bears are so smart they would immediately adopt the behaviors necessary to survive.
But only humans have the power to prevent conflicts with bears. So I wrote Living with Bears Handbook instead. I worked with bear experts from all over North America and dug up all the latest information and tools people need to understand bears, prevent conflicts and peacefully share space.
I believe that understanding leads to enlightenment – we really don’t feel compelled to protect things we don’t understand or appreciate. The more you know about bears, the easier it is to understand why your birdfeeder or unsecured garbage or badly pitched campsite could easily start a bear down a one-way path to an unhappy and untimely end. And what you can do to prevent problems, instead of create them.
But understanding is only the beginning – turning beliefs into action is the hard part. So I worked hard to uncover practical, actionable ways to prevent conflicts and find examples of how other people and communities are living the talk every day. I genuinely believe in the power of one person to change the world, because I’ve gotten to know so many people who are doing just that. You’ll meet many of them in the book, including Get Bear Smart Society’s past executive director Sylvia Dolson. If you’re reading this blog, you’ll also enjoy the chapters on Whistler, Get Bear Smart Society, Canmore and Bear Smart Communities.
There’s also a lot of handy information you won’t find anyplace else, from the Bear Behavioral Ladder of Progression and Human Foods vs. Bear Foods calorie counter to an overview of bear management tactics and detailed stats on North American bear populations.
North America’s foremost authority on bear attacks, Steve Herrero, once again pitched in on my chapters on bear encounters and attacks. The latest thinking and research on how to prevent and respond to an encounter is eye-opening. Spoiler alert: one good way to stay safe is to leave your dog at home, or keep it on a short leash at all times.
No matter what rung of the bear ladder you’re on – bear enthusiast, homeowner, outdoorsperson, community leader, educator, interpreter, photographer, or professional involved in bear management, conflict management or research, I think you’ll find Living with Bears Handbook a thought provoking and fun read.
Order your copy at www.livingwithbears.com.