The Provincial Bear Smart program is based on a series of criteria that communities must achieve in order to be designated "Bear Smart". The responsibility of managing these conflicts rests with everyone and requires participation from the provincial and municipal governments, and local citizens to be successful.
Do you already know where the bear activity is in your community? Do you have bear- resistant garbage containers? Is there fencing around the local landfill? Is there some kind of bear education program in place? These are just a few of the ways that British Columbia communities are working towards achieving the Bear Smart criteria. The following is an outline of the six steps and where we are in the process:
1. Prepare a bear hazard assessment of the community and surrounding area..
October 2008 - NBA Bear Hazard Assessment Prince George, British Columbia is complete and available for download. Adobe Reader is required to read this file.
2. Prepare a human/bear conflict management plan that is designed to address the bear hazards and land-use conflicts identified in the previous step.
October 2009 - Human-Bear Conflict Prevention Management Plan for Prince George, British Columbia is complete and available for download. Adobe Reader is required to read this file.
3. Revise planning and decision-making documents to be consistent with the human/bear conflict management plan.
The City of Prince George 2011 Official Community Plan (OCP) includes bear smart policy direction for bylaws, education, development, and management to dissuade human/bear conflicts, and neighbourhood plans for new development areas reflect the ear smart OCP policy direction.
4. Implement a continuing education program, directed at all sectors of the community.
Ongoing since 2000. Northern Bear Awareness Society provides free presentations to schools and community groups. We also deliver brochures to homes and canvass door-to-door to provide advice on managing bear attractants in high bear-use areas. Regular media releases and interviews, garbage tagging, and attendance at public festivals and markets are some other ways that we continue to educate our community.
5. Develop and maintain a bear-resistant municipal solid waste management system.
Bear-resistant waste containers have been installed in parks and other public areas across the city. A pilot project of 300 bear-resistant garbage carts was implemented in 2019 in a high bear-use neighbourhood in the city, to assess the feasibility of broader usage of the carts. The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George landfill fencing and Solid Waste Management Plan reflect Bear Smart policies. There is still work to be done to satisfy this criterion.
6. Implement "Bear Smart" bylaws prohibiting the provision of food to bears as a result of intent, neglect or irresponsible management of attractants.
City Garbage Collection Bylaw No. 7661 and Property Maintenance Bylaw No. 8425 include bear smart regulations requiring residents to manage bear attractants.
Check out the Get Bear Smart Society's website. It has lots of useful information, especially the background report, which describes the program in detail.
Where is Prince George in all of this?
Our community has already met a number of the Bear Smart Criteria. We have completed a bear hazard assessment of Prince George and surrounding area (check out our conflict map). We have also completed most aspects of criteria numbers 2 and 3. Prince George implemented a continuing education program in 2000, called Northern Bear Awareness. This program has been incredibly successful at reaching all sectors of the community.
Every year, the Northern Bear Awareness Society speaks to thousands of people about bear attractants, human-bear conflicts, and bear safety. This includes elementary school kids, secondary school students, and lots and lots of interested adults. We have also been officially endorsed by the Mayor and Council of Prince George when a resolution for a Bear Smart bylaw was passed on June 29, 2009. While Prince George isn't Bear Smart yet, it is something we are working on!
More than 20 communities in B.C. are actively pursuing Bear Smart status.
Congratulations to Kamloops, Squamish, Lions Bay, Whistler, Port Alberni, Naramata, New Denver, Coquitlam, Port Hardy, and Castlegar for achieving Bear Smart status!
Keep your eyes on our local newspapers and this website for any updates regarding our Bear Smart status!