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Kamloops becomes B.C.’s first Bear Smart Community

 | December 14, 2009

bearThe Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, is pleased to announce the City of Kamloops is B.C.’s very first ‘Bear Smart’ Community, Environment Minister Barry Penner announced today. “Kamloops stepped up to the plate by developing a community plan to reduce bear-human conflicts, installing bear-proof garbage cans, and educating people about Bear Smart practices,” said Penner. “I congratulate the residents of Kamloops for their diligence and enthusiasm in working towards Bear Smart status and achieving it, and setting an example for other communities to follow.”

Designed by the Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the Bear Smart Community program is a voluntary, preventative conservation program.

“Through partnerships with the B.C. Conservation Foundation and Thompson- Nicola Regional District, the City of Kamloops has been successful in implementing a conservation program including educating our citizens on reducing bear-human conflicts,” said City of Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar. “Receiving this designation is a great accomplishment for our city staff, our partners and all community members. I thank everyone for their participation and support in keeping our community a healthy and safe place to live.”

The goal of achieving Bear Smart Community status is to address the root causes of bear-human conflicts, reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.

There are a number of criteria that communities must achieve to be recognized as Bear Smart, including:

* Prepare a bear hazard assessment of the community and surrounding area.

* Prepare a bear-human conflict management plan designed to address bear hazards and land-use conflicts identified in the previous step.

* Revise planning and decision-making documents to be consistent with the bear-human conflict management plan.

* Implement a continuing education program, directed at all sectors of the community.

* Develop and maintain a bear-proof municipal solid waste management system.

* Implement Bear Smart bylaws prohibiting providing food to bears, whether as a result of intent, neglect, or irresponsible management of attractants.

“There are many benefits that come with being designated a Bear Smart Community,” said Terry Lake, MLA Kamloops-North Thompson. “Benefits include reducing the number of bear-human conflicts, and fewer bears being destroyed because of careless human behaviour. Kamloops is a great ambassador for the Bear Smart program, and an excellent model for shared environmental management and stewardship goals.”

The Conservation Officer Service (COS) is the enforcement program of the Ministry of Environment. It delivers compliance and enforcement services in support of more than 30 provincial and federal statutes. The COS is also the lead program for managing and responding to wildlife-human conflicts where there is a risk to public safety or property damage.

For more information on B.C.’s Bear Smart Program, visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart/bearsmintro.html

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