New funding to keep bears and people safe

  • Apr. 12, 2013 12:00 p.m.

The province is providing $225,000 to Bear Aware, an educational program designed to reduce and prevent human-bear conflicts and the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year. The most effective and natural way to prevent conflicts with bears in urban areas is to put away food attractants like garbage, birdseed, compost and fruit. Communities where attractants are managed properly have seen a decline in related human-bear conflicts and in the number of bears that have to be destroyed. Bear Aware education is one component that must be completed for a community to obtain Bear Smart status. Bear Smart is a voluntary, preventative conservation measure that encourages communities, businesses and individuals to work together. The goal is to address the root causes of human-bear conflicts, reducing the risk to public safety and private property. The Conservation Officer Service is the primary responder to human-wildlife conflicts where there is a risk to public safety, conservation concerns or where significant property damage has occurred. In 2012/13, the Conservation Officer Service received 25,184 calls regarding human-wildlife conflicts. Of those calls, 15,833 involved human-bear conflicts. During this same period, the total number of black bear calls was down slightly from the previous year, while grizzly conflicts were up. Over the past five years in B.C., an average of 600 black bears have been destroyed each year, while 93 have been relocated due to conflicts with people.