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Whistler now officially ‘bear smart’

Whistler joins three other B.C. towns with provincial designation

The provincial government has acknowledged Whistler's hard work to create a cooperative living arrangement with local wildlife by officially designating it a Bear Smart Community.

The designation means that residents and visitors are addressing the root causes of bear-human conflicts and they are reducing the risks to human safety and private property while reducing the number of bears destroyed each year.

Whistler received the designation by creating a conflict management plan, educating residents and visitors about bear issues, changing the way garbage is handled and passing bylaws aimed at reducing food sources.

"Achieving Bear Smart Community status is a high point in our program, but is not the end point - we will continue to work co-operatively to further reduce human-bear conflicts," said Whistler mayor Ken Melamed after the designation was announced.

Sylvia Dolson, the executive director of the Get Bear Smart Society, said in an e-mail message that the designation is great news for Whistler. She added that her society is committed to resolving new issues as they arise.

"It is an ongoing and evolving process, but it's nice to have our progress to date recognized," Dolson wrote.

Lions Bay was given the same acknowledgement and the two new Bear Smart communities join Squamish and Kamloops as the only four towns in B.C. acknowledged for taking initiatives to make bear management a priority.

"These two communities earned their Bear Smart title by implementing Bear Aware education, bear-proofing residential waste management such as residential garbage totes and community bins and taking many other actions to reduce bear-human conflict," said Environment Minister Terry Lake.

Check the next edition of Pique for more details.