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City of Castlegar named Bear Smart community

The City of Castlegar has now been officially named the tenth community in the province to obtain Bear Smart status by the B.C. Conservation Officers Service.

“It is great to see the City of Castlegar and, more importantly, our residents get recognized as a Bear Smart community,” said Kirk Duff, Castlegar Mayor. “This accomplishment is possible because of a collective effort by our community to change everyday habits and activities relating to things such as garbage and fruit trees to reduce conflicts with bears in Castlegar.”

The Bear Smart Community Program is a voluntary, preventative conservation measure that supports individuals, businesses, and communities to reduce conflicts with bears.

To be qualified as a Bear Smart community, there are six criteria that need to be met.

  • Prepare a bear hazard assessment
    • History and pattern of bear conflicts
    • Identify high-use bear habitat
    • Non-natural attractants
      • Garbage
      • Fruit trees
      • Bird feeders
      • Compost
  • Prepare a Bear/human conflict management plan
    • Strategies to resolve hazards
    • Reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts
  • Revise planning and decision making documents
    • Incorporate Bear Smart practices
      • Official community plan
      • Solid waste management plan
  • Implement a continuing education program
    • WildSafeBC/Ministry standard
  • Develop and maintain a bear-proof waste management system
    • Waste management is inaccessible to bears
      • Bylaws
      • Bear-resistant containers
      • Electric fencing
  • Implement Bear Smart bylaws

The Ministry of Environment said the City of Castlegar is following all of the criteria by putting in bear-resistant garbage cans and community dumpsters in high activity areas. Since 1999, the City has also held annual school presentations, neighbourhood garbage patrols, and informative farmers market booths. The Province said Castlegar has also developed a Bear Hazard Assessment, a Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan, and a Bear Attractant Response Strategy.

“The B.C. Conservation Officer Service commends the hard work and dedication of Castlegar to help reduce human-wildlife conflicts and obtain Bear Smart status,” said Doug Forsdick, Chief Conservation Officer with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. “We know it’s not an easy task, but we hope other communities will now turn to Castlegar as an example of how properly managing attractants can help our wildlife stay wild.”

“Bear Smart practices truly make a difference in the number of human-bear conflicts communities report, which means fewer bears are destroyed. Thank you again for all of your perseverance and hard work.”

Castlegar now joins New Denver, Kamloops, Squamish, Lions Bay, Whistler, Port Alberni, Naramata, Coquitlam, and Port Hardy as the ten communities recognized as Bear Smart.

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