As the bears are up and about again, it’s time to be bear aware.
The provincial government is helping spread the Bear Aware message, providing $225,000 over the next year to bring the message to more B.C. communities.
“This support will help to expand and continue community programs that teach people how to avoid conflicts with wildlife,” says Frank Ritcey, Bear Aware co-ordinator with the B.C. Conservation Foundation. “We encourage communities to contact us to see how we can bring a Bear Aware program to your community.”
Bear Aware is an educational program focused on reducing human-bear conflict in residential neighbourhoods. It’s administered by the B.C. Conservation Foundation and has proven to be an effective tool to decrease conflicts. Last year, 22 communities, including Kamloops, participated in the program.
The most effective way to prevent conflicts with bears is to put away food attractants such as garbage, bird seed, compost and fruit. In communities where attractants are managed properly, there’s been a decline in related human-bear conflicts and in the number of bears that have had to be destroyed.
The Conservation Officer Service (COS) is the primary responder to human-wildlife conflicts where there’s a risk to public safety, conservation concerns or where significant property damage has occurred. In 2011/12 the COS received approximately 23,800 regarding human-bear conflicts. Over the past five years in B.C., on average, 600 black bears were destroyed each year, while 93 were relocated.
For more on Bear Aware visit www.bearaware.bc.ca