Black Bear

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is the most common and widely distributed of the three bears found in Canada.

BC boasts one of the highest populations of black bears in the world with their numbers being somewhere between 120 and 150 thousand animals. Pretty much all of BC is considered “bear country” with bears inhabiting everything from the coastal forests, through to the interior grasslands. From north to south and east to west in this province you’ll have a chance to see black bears.

Since we typically locate our homes, city, ranches and farms in prime bear habitat, it stands to reason that there will be an opportunity for conflict with these animals. Calls to the Conservation Officer Reporting Line regarding bear conflicts and bear sightings can number anywhere from 14,000 to 25,000 calls in a year.

A new brochure Who’s Who: Know your bears is now available and highlights the differences and similarities between Black Bears and Grizzly Bears. Take the quiz and see if YOU know your bears!

To reduce the potential for conflicts with bears in general and black bears in particular, it is important that you learn as much as you can about this animal and to read and follow the information presented here:

The American Black bear (Ursus americanus)

  • Adult males measure between 60-90 cm at shoulder height and weigh anywhere from 80-300 kilograms.
  • While called a black bear, these animals come in a variety of colours – everything from the white Kermode bear through to their namesake black and most shades of brown in between.
  • Bears have eyesight and hearing as good as or better than that of humans. The myth about bears having poor eyesight is due in part to the bears habit of standing and apparently looking around as if to get a better look at people. What is more likely the case is that the bear is standing to get a better smell of you.
  • Adult black bears have few predators in the wild: grizzly bears and wolves are about the only animals that will attempt to kill a full grown black bear.
  • Young black bears may be preyed upon by adult male black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes, and cougars.
  • Black bears can live to be over thirty years of age in the wild but more commonly live to be about fifteen to twenty years of age.
  • Black bears are extremely fast and can run equally as well uphill or down.
  • Bears inhabit most ecosystems throughout BC and you should consider the entire province to be “bear country”.
  • Bears are normally solitary animals apart from when sows are with their young and tend to only congregate when there is an abundance of food.
  • While bears have a “home range” they do not have a territory that they defend as their own. Bears will tolerate other bears in their presence when there is an abundance of food such as a run of salmon.
  • Bears are omnivorous animals with vegetation making up about 80% of their diet and the remainder coming from things like small rodents, fish, insects, carrion (dead animals) and sometimes young deer, elk or moose.
  • Bears have an extremely good sense of smell and can smell food from over a kilometer away.
  • Because bears need such great stores of fat to make it through the winter they are voracious eaters and can consume over 20,000 calories a day. This phase of intense eating is called hyperphagia.
  • Bears go into a deep sleep or denning period, usually from November through to April.
  • Some black bears, usually males, may not hibernate if the weather is good and food is still abundant.
  • During the denning period, bears will not defecate or urinate.
  • Bears lose approximately 30% of their weight over the winter.
  • Bears mate in late June and embryos do not implant until the fall and only if the female has sufficient stores of fat to support the young through the nursing period in the den.
  • Young black bears are called cubs.
  • Black bears are born in the den and are from 250g to 500g in weight, eyes closed and relatively helpless.
  • Cubs are between 2-5 kilograms in size when they leave the den in late April.
  • Female bears tend to their young for almost two years and can give birth to as many as five young but twins are more the norm.
  • Bears have a sense of smell far greater than that of dogs and it is this sense of smell that helps them locate food at great distances.

Bear cubs and sow at waterhole from WildSafeBC on Vimeo.

Reducing conflicts where we live

Since we share the same landscape with bears, it stands to reason that there are going to be times when bears will be in our living space (just as we are often in theirs). As long as a bear is moving through our community, is not lingering, and is not interacting with us or our property then there is no conflict. There are many situations when a bear moving through the community is to be expected: e.g. when they are trying to access a natural food source such as a fish bearing stream or trying to get to foraging opportunities on the other side of what was once their normal home range.

When bears quit moving through the community and start using the community as a foraging area for human-provided foods then conflicts develop. Bears that start using human-provided foods (anthropogenic foods in the words of the biologists) can become food-conditioned. Once a bear starts equating humans with foods, they can lose their natural wariness of humans and become what is called human-habituated (often simply referred to as being habituated). An habituated bear tolerates humans in much closer proximity than what is safe for both bears and humans. This increases the potential for a dangerous interaction between the bears and us.

Consider the following two scenarios: A person is walking alongside an habituated bear and something startles the bear – like a sudden noise or something falls besides the bear. The bear’s “fight or flight” instincts come into play immediately and seeing no safe way out of the situation the bear instinctively charges the human, fatally mauls him (or her) and escapes off into the surrounding forests. Now consider the same scenario, but because the bear has not yet been habituated to humans, he does not let the human get too close to him in the first place. Now when startled, the bear, has sufficient space between him and the human and can opt for flight instead of fight and safely retreats to the forest and no-one is injured.

The bottom line is that habituated bears allow humans to get too close. It is our belief that the best way to avoid conflict is to: keep bears from becoming food-conditioned and from becoming human habituated.

Please learn these ways you can keep your neighbourhood safe and share the following with your neighbours:

Garbage (accounts for 55% of calls regarding bears *)

  • Store garbage in a secure building until collection day or consider purchasing a bear-resistant household container.
  • Ensure bins are tightly closed.
  • Regularly wash all recycling items and clean the bins that contain garbage or recycling.
  • Do not leave garbage in the back of a truck, even if it has a canopy.
  • If you cannot store garbage securely, freeze smelly items and add to the bin only on the morning of collection.
  • * 55% of the calls to the COS regarding black bears, when an attractant was noted, was garbage for the period of 2010-2013.

Fruit Trees

  • Pick fruit and allow it to ripen indoors or pick daily as it ripens. Do not allow windfall to accumulate on the ground.
  • If you do not want the fruit, prune the tree vigorously to prevent blossoms or spray spring blossoms with a garden hose to knock them off.
  • If you would like to make the fruit available to others, contact a local fruit exchange program or food bank.
  • Consider using electric fencing to protect your fruit trees.
  • If you no longer want to manage your tree, consider replacement with a native, non-fruit bearing variety.

Berry Bushes

  • Berries should be picked as they ripen.
  • Consider replacing your bushes with native, non-fruiting varieties if you do not want the fruit.
  • Consider using electric fencing to protect your berry bushes.

Bird Feeders

  • Please note that birdseed is a very good source of calories for bears and other wildlife. A kilogram of sunflower seeds has approximately 8,000 calories – about 20 times the caloric reward a bear would get from grazing the same weight of wild clover.
  • Use bird feeders only in the winter when bears are hibernating and natural bird food is limited.
  • If you feed birds in bear season, consider the following steps to minimize your contribution to human-bear conflicts:
    • Take bird feeders in at night
    • Keep the ground underneath the feeders clean and free of bird seed
    • Fill your feeders regularly with just a small amount of feed - this will decrease the reward a bear would receive if it does get to your feeder.

Compost

  • The key to a healthy compost is ensuring equal amounts of brown and green materials.
  • Layer your greens, such as kitchen scraps and fresh grass clippings with no more than 10 cm of browns, such as dried leaves, grasses, shredded newspaper and cardboard.
  • Do not add fish, meat, fat, oils, un-rinsed eggshells or any cooked food.
  • Add oxygen by turning regularly.
  • Avoid overloading the compost in fruit season - freeze material and add gradually.
  • Avoid adding cereals or grains.

Pets and pet food

  • Feed pets indoors.
  • If pets are fed outside, ensure all food is cleaned up.
  • Store pet food in a secure location or in a bear-resistant bin.

Barbeques

  • Clean barbeques after use by burning off the grill entirely.
  • Remove and clean the grease trap after every use.
  • Cover and/or store indoors (do not take propane tank indoors).

Even more ways to prevent bears from gaining access to human food

  • Protect beehives with electric fencing.
  • Store freezers indoors if possible. If left outside, clean outside of freezer after every use to remove food residue.
  • Food smokers and the preparation and curing of wild meat can be an attractant – consider using electric fencing.
  • Store petroleum products in a secure enclosure.
  • Never leave a cooler outside unless it has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • Vegetable gardens may become an attractant if a bear has already gained other food rewards on your property. Consider electric fencing.

To Keep Bears Moving Through the Area...

  • Thin out brush to reduce natural cover close to buildings and along paths.
  • Install motion-sensor lighting on walking paths to ensure a clean line of sight and to discourage lingering bears.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked. Cooking smells can lure hungry bears.

Reducing conflicts where we work

People who work in the wilderness and rural areas of BC need to understand what animals they are likely to come across and what precautions need to be taken to ensure that these encounters are safe for both the worker and the wildlife.

  • Understand the probability of encounter for both the area and for the time you will be working in an area. If possible, time your work in the area to minimize the possibility of an encounter: e.g. if you need to take soil samples in a berry patch that is known to have a large population of bears try to sample the area before or after the berry crop, or if you need to be there when berries are in season try to be in the area during the heat of the day and when bears are more likely to be sleeping in a cooler area.
  • Take training such as offered in the DVD “Staying Safe in Bear Country.” This is an excellent video and covers everything you need to know about bear safety. It is the best 30 minutes you will spend in terms of your education about bears.
  • Carry Bear Spray with you. Remember to:
    • Have taken training in its proper use
    • Check the expiry date and have a current can
    • Transport it properly (appropriate container, in the box of truck, trunk, or back of your vehicle under a blanket)
    • Carry it with you in a quick release holster in easy reach (never tucked under a rain jacket or in the back of your pack)
  • The best bear encounter is the one you avoid so always be vigilant when in the bush. Watch for bear sign (scat, tracks, signs of grazing, overturned logs, claw marks on trees, etc.).
    • Bear scat varies in size, consistency and content depending upon the season. Typically high in plant content, the bear scat will become loose and runny the more the bear feeds on berries.
    • Bear tracks will show all five toes and claw marks about an inch or so above the toe pads.
    • Overturned logs and stumps torn apart should be checked for signs of freshness.
  • Talk or sing while working to let the bears know you are in the area. The sound from bear bells do not carry as far nor are as distinct as the sound of human voices.
  • Be especially vigilant if you are working alongside running water, in thick bush or if there is a strong wind blowing – in these circumstances a bear is less likely to hear you and a chance for a surprise encounter is greater.
  • Pack out whatever you pack in: do not leave any organics behind – even though that apple core will rot and decompose, it could also be eaten by a bear that would then associate the smell of humans with a food reward.
  • It is best not to work alone in bear country. Just the fact that there are two of you in the area should help prevent a bear encounter.
  • If you do have a bear encounter remember these safety basics:
    • Bear encounter basics
      • Assess what type of encounter it is – defensive or predatory
        • A defensive encounter will usually be marked by a lot of noise by the bear and a head on rush at you.
          • Hold your ground and pull out your bear spray and release the safety
          • Speak to the bear in a loud low voice saying things like “Whoa bear – you’d better back off”
          • If the bear continues its charge and closes to within 5-10 meters, deploy your bear spray in a short burst, aiming from the ground up to create a wall between you and the bear. When the bear retreats, head back to your vehicle and contact the Conservation Officer Reporting line as soon as possible. Alert others in the area to the presence of the bear.
          • If the bear breaks off its charge before you have to deploy your spray – take a step or two back away from the bear. Continue to speak in a low voice. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear. Keep your bear spray at the ready. Once the bear knows you are not a threat it should leave or return to what it was protecting. Continue to back away and keep an eye on the bear. Return to your vehicle and alert the authorities and your co-workers as to the presence of the bear.
  • Make sure your camp is properly set up
    • Temporary, back country camps
      • Before choosing your site, do a walk around – a couple of circuits of increasing radius to check for signs of wildlife in the immediate area
      • Do not set up along known wildlife corridors or in high use areas (look for tracks, scat, signs of feeding, etc.)
      • Set up with good sight lines
      • Cook and eat away from your tent
      • Store all food in bear resistant containers and/or suspend from a line stretched between two trees. Make sure the bottom of your pack is at least 3m above the ground and 1.5m from the nearest tree.
      • Do not have any food in your tent
      • Keep the area clean and odour free
      • When sleeping in your tent, have your bear spray and a flashlight in a readily accessible area.
      • Consider using a packable electric fence
    • Long term work camps
      • Choose a site that will not be in conflict with existing wildlife usage (e.g. do not set up alongside a known salmon spawning stream)
      • Use bear-resistant garbage containers and have a solid waste management plan in place.
      • Keep the site garbage and odour free.
      • Train all personnel as to their responsibilities with regards to attractant management.
      • Feeding of any wildlife should be prohibited.
      • Electric fencing should be erected on all sites that have a high probability of a bear encounter.
      • Have a wildlife reporting system in place so shift workers can be appraised of any activity around the camp.
      • Have bear spray available in areas known to all personnel.
      • Have clear sight lines around all buildings.
      • Have proper lighting in the camp, along with motion activated lights.
  • Bear dens: Black bear dens may be just a shallow excavation by the root of an upturned tree, a cavity within a cedar tree, or a hole excavated in the ground. Denning periods vary throughout the province of BC: male bears on the coast may not den at all, while bears in the far north of the province may den before the end of October and not come out until the end of April. A more average denning period would be from late November until mid-April. Logging or industrial activity that will take place in areas where bears are likely to den (and during the denning period of late November through April) should have a den location survey completed as close to the denning period as possible. This is best done with a trained bear tracking dog and a grid search of the area. Advice as to how to proceed after a den has been located can be provided from the appropriate agency (at this time FLNRO should be contacted).

Reducing conflict where we play

Outdoor recreation is a big part of life in our province. Whether we are camping, hiking, mountain biking or out taking pictures we are probably going to be carrying out these activities in bear country. The following are suggested precautions when recreating in bear country:

General

  • Understand the probability of encounter for both the area and for the time you will be recreating in an area. If possible, time your visit to the area to minimize the possibility of an encounter: e.g. if you want to go hiking in an area where you know there is a good berry crop, try to time your hike through the area before or after the berry crop, or if you need to be there when berries are in season try to be in the area during the heat of the day and when bears are more likely to be sleeping in a cooler area.
  • Take training such as offered in the DVD “Staying Safe in Bear Country.” This is an excellent video and covers everything you need to know about bear safety. It is the best 30 minutes you will spend in terms of your education about bears.
  • Carry Bear Spray with you. Remember to:
    • Have taken training in its proper use
    • Check the expiry date and have a current can
    • Transport it properly (appropriate container, in the box of truck, trunk, or back of your vehicle under a blanket)
    • Carry it with you in a quick release holster in easy reach (never tucked under a rain jacket or in the back of your pack)
  • The best bear encounter is the one you avoid so always be vigilant when in the bush. Watch for bear sign (scat, tracks, signs of grazing, overturned logs, claw marks on trees, etc.).
    • Bear scat varies in size, consistency and content depending upon the season. Typically high in plant content, the bear scat will become loose and runny the more the bear feeds on berries.
    • Bear tracks will show all five toes and claw marks about an inch or so above the toe pads.
    • Overturned logs and stumps torn apart should be checked for signs of freshness.
  • Talk or sing while recreating to let the bears know you are in the area. The sound from bear bells do not carry as far nor are as distinct as the sound of human voices.
  • Be especially vigilant if you are walking alongside running water, in thick bush or if there is a strong wind blowing – in these circumstances a bear is less likely to hear you and a chance for a surprise encounter is greater.
  • Pack out whatever you pack in: do not leave any organics behind – even though that apple core will rot and decompose, it could also be eaten by a bear that would then associate the smell of humans with a food reward.
  • It is best not to hike alone in bear country. Just the fact that there are two of you in the area should help prevent a bear encounter. Some national parks set a minimum group size when hiking in bear country.
  • If you do have a bear encounter remember these safety basics:
    • Bear encounter basics
      • Assess what type of encounter it is – defensive or predatory
        • A defensive encounter will usually be marked by a lot of noise by the bear and a head on rush at you.
        • Hold your ground and pull out your bear spray and release the safety
        • Speak to the bear in a loud low voice “Whoa – you’d better back off”
        • If the bear continues its charge and closes to within 5-10 meters deploy your bear spray in a short burst, aiming from the ground up to create a wall between you and the bear. When the bear retreats, head back to your vehicle and contact the Conservation Officer Reporting line as soon as possible. Alert others in the area to the presence of the bear.
        • If the bear breaks off its charge before you have to deploy your spray – take a step or two back away from the bear. Continue to speak in a low voice. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear. Keep your bear spray at the ready. Once the bear knows you are not a threat it should leave or return to what it was protecting. Continue to back away and keep an eye on the bear. Return to your vehicle and alert the authorities and your co-workers as to the presence of the bear.
  • Camping
    • Front country/designated sites
      • Use bear resistant bins and/or follow food storage rules as set out at the campsite.
      • Keep your campsite clean and odour free.
      • Be aware of the activities of other campers – the food they leave out could very well bring a bear through your campsite. Report any inappropriate behaviour to the appropriate authorities.
      • Do not have any food in your tent.
    • Back country camping
      • Before choosing your site, do a walk around – a couple of circuits of increasing radius to check for signs of wildlife in the immediate area
      • Do not set up along known wildlife corridors or in high use areas (look for tracks, scat, signs of feeding, etc.)
      • Set up with good sight lines
      • Cook and eat away from your tent
      • Store all food in bear resistant containers and/or suspend from a line stretched between two trees. Make sure the bottom of your pack is at least 3m above the ground and 1.5m from the nearest tree.
      • Do not have any food in your tent
      • Keep the area clean and odour free
      • When sleeping in your tent, have your bear spray and a flashlight in a readily accessible area.
      • Consider using a packable electric fence
  • Mountain biking
    • Mountain bikers put themselves at greater risk for a confrontation with a bear because of the biker’s speed and relatively quiet mode of transport.
    • Before heading out on trails, check the WARP program or trailhead signs to see if any bears have been reported in the area. If bears have been sighted recently in the area, consider a second trail. The best bear encounter is the one you avoid.
    • Carry bear spray in a readily accessible (yet protected area) and know how to use it.
    • Ride in groups whenever possible
    • Watch for bear sign and keep your group closer together and talk loudly if you see fresh sign. Bears should give you lots of room if they know you are in the area.
    • Learn from locals as to what trails have the potential for meeting bears at what time of the year and choose your rides accordingly.
  • Photography
    • Nature photographers, especially those wanting to get that perfect shot of a bear need to take special precautions to keep both them and the bears safe.
      • Never feed a bear to get the shot (it is illegal and very unsafe)
      • Give the bears plenty of room, never approach a bear closer than 100 meters unless you are in your vehicle
      • Never crowd, surround or follow a bear
      • Watch for signs of the animal becoming stressed by your presence and leave at the first signs of such stress. Bears may ‘pop’ their jaws, woof, or stomp their paws. Increased head swaying, ears laid back and the bear no longer feeding are signs of imminent trouble.
      • Bear photography is best done from a vehicle or a regulated viewing platform
      • Report any inappropriate activity by others – it may save a life.
      • Check out the discussion by professional photographers about the ethics of wildlife photography at
      • The national park board also has some good guidelines for wildlife photography here.

Reducing conflict with black bears when we GROW our own food

While we recognize the importance of local food production, it is very important that this production be undertaken in a manner that is sustainable and safe for both workers and local wildlife alike. If wildlife is routinely destroyed to allow crops or livestock to be harvested then something is being done wrong.

The following points should be considered for growing crops or raising livestock in BC:

  • Proper fencing for operations.
  • Sustainability with respect to wildlife
  • Electric fencing
  • Sheep and cattle
  • Blueberry farms
  • Certificates of sustainability

Livestock and Feed

  • Keep feed secured indoors or in bear resistant containers.
  • Keep chickens and small livestock in at night.
  • Use electric fencing to protect livestock.
  • Keep young animals close to the home and protected with electric fencing.
  • Don’t bury carcasses in areas where you wish to exclude bears.

Bear Smart

Every year hundreds of bears are destroyed in BC as a result of conflicts between people and bears. In rare instances, people are also injured or even killed as a result of these conflicts. Most of these problems begin when people allow bears to access non-natural food sources such as garbage.

The Bear Smart Community program is a program designed and run by The Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource operations in partnership with the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. It 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, thereby reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.

This program is based on a series of criteria that communities must achieve in order to be recognized as being "Bear Smart". The responsibility to manage bear-human conflicts rests with everyone; Bear Smart will require participation from the provincial government, municipal governments, and local citizens to be successful.

WildSafeBC and the Ministry of Environment will provide technical advice to communities that are seeking to obtain Bear Smart status. Several British Columbia communities have been proactive in reducing bear conflicts and have already been awarded Bear Smart status or met one or more of the criteria required to be “Bear Smart”.

For more information on having your community become “Bear Smart” please contact MIKE BADRY with the Conservation Officer Service (250.356.9134)

Criteria for Communities to be designated Bear Smart

  • Prepare a bear hazard assessment of the community and surrounding area.
  • Prepare a bear-human conflict management plan that is designed to address the 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 the provision of food to bears as a result of intent, neglect, or irresponsible management of attractants.

A brochure outlining the Bear Smart Community program, as well as a technical background report, are available. The background report is for use by communities that are interested in pursuing this initiative and provides detailed information on each of the criteria, including examples of their successful application.

  1. Prepare a bear hazard assessment of the community and surrounding area.
    • Identify high-use bear habitat by species (grizzly or black) in the community and surrounding area (travel corridors, natural food sources such as berry patches and salmon streams, breeding areas, denning areas, etc.)
    • Map non-natural attractants within the community and surrounding area that attract and/or are accessible to bears such as landfills, transfer stations, park and highway pull-out litter barrels, orchards, residential garbage collection routes, downtown dumpsters, etc.
    • Review and map patterns of historic bear-human conflicts based on complaint records to assist with the identification of bear hazards.
    • Map human-use areas that may conflict with bear habitat such as school yards and residential areas located adjacent to heavy bush, walking trails that pass through berry patches, etc.
    • Using all the above information, identify and map existing and potential bear hazards. The hazards should be mapped with a ranking scheme (e.g., high/moderate/low)
  2. Prepare a bear-human conflict management plan that is designed to address the bear hazards and land-use conflict identified in the previous step.
    • Develop strategies to resolve bear hazards and potential bear/human conflict areas.
    • Identify preferred wildlife movement corridors around the community and any work required to restore natural corridors that may have been interrupted by human activity/development (e.g., this may require moving facilities to other, less intrusive areas).
    • Direct the removal of cover by brushing vegetation to reduce hazards (e.g., removing brush around portions of parks, school yards, golf courses and in areas adjacent to residences in high-risk attraction areas).
    • Develop a community landscape plan that avoids the use of fruit trees and other plants that may act as attractants and calls for the removal of existing fruit trees that are causing problems. Include specific strategies to address bear management associated with any landfill closures or electric fence installations.
    • Assess the costs of the various bear management strategies and make recommendations on a budget cycle to finance implementation of the plan.
    • Implement a process for overseeing the implementation of the bear-human management plan (e.g., establish a bear-human conflicts committee).
  3. Revise planning and decision-making documents to be consistent with the bear-human conflict management plan.
    • Include consideration of important bear habitat/use areas in all land-use decisions documents.
    • Avoid development in prime bear habitat so as to reduce/eliminate the potential for bear/human conflicts.
    • Revise the Official Community Plan to reflect the bear/human conflict management plan.
    • Implement restrictive covenants consistent with the revised OCP.
    • Revise land zoning consistent with the revised OCP.
    • Revise components of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan pertaining to the community (in cooperation with the regional district) to be consistent with the bear-human conflict management plan.
    • Revise any other planning and decision-making documents that may have an impact on bear/human conflicts to be consistent with the bear/human conflict management plan.
  4. Implement a continuing education program (e.g. WildSafeBC) directed at all sectors of the community, focusing on:
    • Bear biology and behaviour
    • Residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial practices to manage non-natural attractants including: garbage storage, barbecues; human and pet foods; compost; bird-feeders; orchards, vineyards, apiaries, grain growing, vegetable growing, home-grown fruit; etc.
    • Proper behaviour in bear habitat and during a bear encounter in the community.
    • Establishing a level of tolerance towards the presence of and natural behaviour of bears in reasonable numbers in or near the community.
    • A program for communicating current bear activity to the public and responding to request for advice in minimizing bear attractants. It is not mandatory that a community embrace the WildSafeBC Program in order to qualify for Bear Smart status. It is however required that any community education resemble the structure of WildSafeBC, with the same aim of reaching people with education on the management of attractants to reduce bear/human conflict in their neighbourhood. As a program, WildSafeBC administers the Bear Smart Program for the Ministry of Environment.
  5. Develop and maintain a bear-proof municipal solid waste (MSW) management system.
    • Ensure that any and all municipally-owned and operated components of putrescible MSW collection, transfer, disposal, recycling and composting in areas that are accessible to, or are frequented by, bears are bear-proof.
    • Implement a by-law to ensure that the same is true of any and all private sector components of putrescible MSW collection, transfer, disposal, recycling and composting.
    • Implement a compliance strategy for the municipal solid waste management by-laws to ensure compliance.
      • Examples of some “how to” approaches for bear-proofing MSW systems:
      • Collection shall include use of bear-resistant barrels on downtown streets which bears may be attracted to and at all municipal park facilities (campsites, ball parks, soccer fields, etc.)Commercial/industrial collection routes in bear areas shall use bear-resistant dumpsters.
      • Disposal shall consist of one of the following: land-filling inside a property designed, constructed and operated electric fence; incineration using a complete-combustion incinerator properly sized to the population; or a bear-resistant transfer station that ships the refuse outside of the area to a bear-resistant disposal facility.
      • Backyard composting may need to be restricted in residential areas adjacent to high-use habitat or otherwise required, by bylaw, to be conducted in a bear-proof manner (e.g., use of electric fencing in backyards, or use of bear-resistant composting containers such as steel drums).
      • Community composting of putrescible matter in bear areas shall be conducted inside an electric fence.
  6. Legislation
    There is legislation in effect that can help prevent the creation of “problem” bears and provide public safety. Under the Wildlife Act, it is an offence for people in British Columbia to feed dangerous wildlife (bears, cougars, coyotes and wolves) or disobey orders to remove and clean up food, food waste or other substances that can attract dangerous wildlife to their premises. Conservation Officers may issue a written dangerous wildlife protection order, which requires “the removal or containment of compost, food, food waste or domestic garbage.” If people fail to comply with the other they could face a penalty of up to $50,000 and/or six months in jail.
  7. Implement "Bear Smart" bylaws prohibiting the provision of food to bears as a result of intent, neglect or irresponsible management of attractants.
    Implement a compliance strategy for these bylaws to ensure that there is full compliance with them. Bylaws may:
    • make it an offence to discard or store waste, food, or other attractants in non-bear resistant containers, either intentionally or unintentionally.
    • require that garbage be stored in a bear resistant container and/or location and that curbside placement before the morning of pick-up not occur.
    • include community composting requirements in high-risk attraction areas of the community.