As black bears are starting to stir in their dens this spring, so are efforts to promote better understanding and acceptance of neighbouring bear populations in the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Black bear researcher Michael Allen will be kicking off a series of monthly slide show presentations in April with images and information geared to typical bear behaviour during each specified month. For example, the April show will include topics such as misconceptions about starvation, human-food bear attractants, where bears sleep outside of dens and how to bear-proof residences.
The presentation planned for June will examine misunderstandings about mating behaviours, family break-up patterns and which bears are most likely to venture near people.
All sessions, except the October and December presentations that concentrate on denning, will provide helpful bear encounter guidelines for the public. Allen says the sessions will be held at Fairmont-Chateau in Whistler, the Squamish Public Library and the Capilano Library in North Vancouver. Dates for the first Whistler show will be confirmed in the next week.
The slide show information stems from Allens 15 years of black bear research and field studies in Whistler and the Lower Columbia River Valley.
Whistler Blackcomb will also be doing its bit to increase awareness about black bears this summer, as well as raise money for a planned Mountain Ecology and Bear Research Centre on Whistler Mountain. From late May or June, the resort will be offering bear and ecology tours through its four resident guides: Whistler Blackcomb mountain planning and environmental manager Arthur deJong, Allen, professional forester Don MacLaurin and ecologist Bob Brett. Since the tours were launched last summer, more than 300 people have participated and there has reportedly been "lots of e-mail response and interest" about trips this summer.
School trips up Whistler Mountain are scheduled for the fall.
An open house on black bears is also planned at the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre in North Vancouver on June 3, where Allen will be showing a slide presentation. June 2-8 has been declared Bear Awareness Week on the North Shore.
And bear enthusiasts Down Under will also hear about Allens bear experiences when he appears live on an Australia network morning show on May 7. The interview will reportedly be carried out from the Whistler Brewhouse at 2 p.m.