Bear Update: Bear ID guide for spring count 

Whistler Black Bear Project

Whistler Black Bear Project

The purpose of the spring bear count (May 1-June 30) is to determine the minimum number of different black bears utilizing select habitats within the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

The count is based on the consistent sighting and recognition of bear identity characteristics (physical, biological, and behavioral) during systematic (counts), focal (individuals monitored long-term), and random (confirmed public bear sightings) observations.

I conduct counts at select habitats where natural and non-natural foods are concentrated or "clumped" in time and space. These clumped food sources attract and provide the required seasonal nutritional needs for large numbers of bears. Since 1994 (Whistler landfill-interpretive forest), 1996 (Whistler-Blackcomb ski area), 2000 (Fairmont-Chateau Golf Course), and 2002 (Whistler Valley) spring and fall bear counts have been conducted as part of a population ecology study initiated by the Whistler Black Bear Project (WBBP) in 1994. The purpose of this study is to learn the dynamics of aggregated "sub-populations" of free-ranging (non-telemetric) black bears and to identify factors that influence their behaviour, kinship relations, growth, and movements and connectivity adjacent to dynamic human habitation. Spring and fall bear counts provide a minimum estimate of relative abundance including sex ratio, age class structure, and density.

All identified bears in Whistler are called "known bears" and are re-sighted seasonally each year, to determine their survival, biology, and behaviour. The spring bear count occurs before berry ripening in July to ensure relative equal effort of sight-ability.

The 2004 fall bear count was 91 bears and is usually higher, including additional non-resident bears attracted to the summer-fall berry crop. Thanks to all participating, over 1,500 public sighting reports (2002-05) have been used so far to help guide bear identification.

Remember do not approach and/or disturb the natural activity of bears.

Non-bear proof garbage and problem bear behaviour (approaching people, buildings, and/or vehicles) should be reported to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-800-663-WILD.

Bear count results will be presented at the public presentation Population Dynamics of Whistler Black Bears sponsored by Whistler Museum and Archives Society on June 9 at Millennium Place. A report summarizing 12 years of bear population monitoring will be released in June to the RMOW, Whistler-Blackcomb Mountains, Community Foundation of Whistler, Whistler Museum and Archives, and Whistler Bear Working Group.

So if you get a good look at a bear, please note colour, size, markings, ear tags, young (cubs or yearlings) and date, time, and location to:

Michael Allen, 604-902-1660

Bear Researcher,

Whistler Black Bear Project

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