By David F. Rooney
Complacency on the part of long-time residents and ignorance on the part of new ones are challenges to the future success of the Bear Aware program, says its annual report, which was presented to City Council on Tuesday.
“There will be an increase in disturbance to wildlife living on Mount Mackenzie and surrounding area as resort development continues,” outgoing Bear Aware Coordinator Janette Vickers said in the report.
“In the future, Revelstoke Mountain Resort will include hiking, mountain biking and golf during the summer months. Education is of utmost importance to ensure that bears do not find attractants, creating a high potential for conflict between people and bears.
“As the population of Revelstoke and surrounding area changes with an increase in new residents, visitors, and absentee owners, it is important to continually seek out new and innovative ways to reach this segment of the population.”
Last year was a busy one for Revelstoke Bear Aware with 212 reports concerning black bears and nine concerning grizzly bears made to the RAPP Line and Revelstoke Bear Aware.
Ten black bears were destroyed in 2011 and one black bear was relocated. No grizzlies were destroyed.
It will come as no surprise to any long-time resident that garbage continues to be the No. 1 attractant for bears, followed secondly by fruit trees. Compost, livestock, pet food, outdoor freezers and fridges, birdfeeders, BBQ’s, beehives and vegetable gardens also continue to be bear attractants, the report said.
Bear Aware as made some major progress in its communications with the general population.
Updating the Google Earth Map provides valuable information to Revelstoke Bear Aware and the community about the locations of high human-bear conflict and helps to direct Revelstoke Bear Aware initiatives.
Although long time Revelstokians have been receiving the Bear Aware message for 16 years and the majority know how to behave in bear country, there are still others that have grown complacent. It is important to continue to educate about the importance of securing attractants.
The Revelstoke Bear Aware website continues to be a popular source of information and received 2,941 visits in 2011 7,017 page views. This was a significant increase from 1,049 visits received in 2010. 75% of users in 2011 were new visitors to the website. The most popular pages viewed by users were the Homepage, Google Earth Map, Identifying a Bear, Current Issues, There is a Bear in My Yard and Report Bear Sightings.
In 2010, Bear Aware created an On-line Bear Sighting Map titled, Where the Bears Are – Revelstoke BC. Updates of bear sightings and complaints were posted bi-weekly. This proved to be an excellent tool for residents of Revelstoke to learn about recent bear activity. There were 751 views of the map in 2010.
In 2011, Revelstoke Bear Aware collaborated with Ron Larsen and Jeff Bolingbroke of Parks Canada to create a Google Earth Map to view bear sightings on the Revelstoke Bear Aware website. The Google Earth Map is an interactive tool for residents to view bear sightings and associated bear attractants in Revelstoke. The map includes bear sighting reports for 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Google Earth Map has received 1,178 page views between May and December 2011.
The report contained 19 recommendations:
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to work with the City on the Waste Collection Strategy committee.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to educate and gain support for the “Bear Smart” provincial initiative.
- The Waste Collection Strategy committee and the City of Revelstoke develop a written plan guiding Revelstoke toward a bear-proof solid waste management system.
- The City of Revelstoke implements bear-proof garbage cans throughout the city. If implemented, Revelstoke Bear Aware works with the City to provide education to residents.
- The City implements a wildlife attractant bylaw and adopts changes made to the City’s garbage Bylaw No. 2006.
- Provided the above bylaws are implemented, Revelstoke Bear Aware works with the City to provide education to the residents regarding the new bylaws.
- Provided the wildlife attractant bylaw is adopted, Revelstoke Bear Aware works with the City to add existing fruit trees to a GIS map, to allow for better monitoring.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware updates to the Bear Hazard Assessment and Bear Human Conflict Management Plan as an appendix to the annual report.
- Provided a written plan is in place to guide Revelstoke toward a bear-proof solid waste system and the above mentioned bylaws are implemented, Revelstoke Bear Aware and the City apply to the province to be granted Bear Smart status.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware updates the Google Earth Map and the Revelstoke Bear Aware website. All new development and subdivisions are required to design for and construct centralized bear-proof garbage bins.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to sit on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Plan Monitoring Advisory committee.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to target education to new residents, visitors and “black window” properties.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware offers an electric fencing education workshop to residents of Revelstoke and surrounding area.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to work with the Wildfire Interface committee to identify areas within the city that have a high potential for both bear security cover and forest fires.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to work in conjunction with the Community Connections Food Bank to expand The Gleaning Project.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware makes recommendations to the City of Revelstoke to remove rogue/un- managed fruit trees.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to foster a good relationship with the resort development team to make development wildlife proof in terms of solid waste, recycling and other wildlife attractants.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware, the City of Revelstoke and the CSRD continue to lobby the provincial government for long term program funding to provide for sustainability.
- Revelstoke Bear Aware continues to lobby for another Conservation Officer in Revelstoke and surrounding area.