This “Bear Smart” community program was mentioned in the last council meeting. It is written in the context of bear management in British Columbia. Bear management in British Columbia has different variables to consider; bear population and species are different. Still, the information presented is useful when considering the Lakeland area.
Conflicts between humans and bears within British Columbia communities have occurred frequently in the past. Management of human-bear conflicts was largely reactive: problems were managed after they had developed. This usually involved the destruction of the bears involved. However, this reactive management approach is very expensive and ineffective at decreasing both the frequency and intensity of future conflicts. This deficiency, in combination with shifts in the public’s attitudes towards the destruction of wildlife, has resulted in changes to the ways in which human-bear conflicts are managed.
This document details the steps and procedures by which communities can reduce the frequency and intensity of human-bear conflicts. The process involves a shift from the reactive management of “problem” bears to the proactive management of the attractants that draw bears into the communities. The Province of British Columbia has chosen to facilitate this change by accrediting communities with “Bear Smart” status, which will be granted to those communities that reach a benchmark level of proactive management of human-bear conflicts.
It is recommended that achieving “Bear Smart” status should be a two-stage process. In Phase I, the sources of potential human-bear conflicts within the community are identified. This typically involves identifying non-natural and natural attractants. In Phase II, a human-bear management plan is developed and implemented. This management plan includes components on monitoring human-bear conflicts, education, managing waste, implementing and enforcing bylaws, managing green space, and community planning. The “Bear Smart” process is designed to be adaptive, so that new management options or improvements can be incorporated into each phase. Criteria for each step in the process are provided so that communities have clearly defined and achievable targets.