Bear Aware: the bear necessities

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
May 13th, 2010

With bear season now upon us the time to start thinking about bear-proofing your property is now. Earlier this week there were reports of a blonde grizzly bear hanging around the Victoria and Davis Street area. On Tuesday, however, the local conservation officer, Peter Businc, was able to get out and spot the bear and confirm that it was a “scruffy” light brown colored black bear and not a grizzly bear as first thought by people who had spotted it.

In other bear-related news, the Rossland Bear Aware program has been brought back from the brink it found itself staring over earlier this year in large part due to the support of the Columbia Basin Trust. Facing uncertain funding year after year, the program looked as though it would drop down to a voluntary service rather than fully-funded program.

Continuing support from the cities of Rossland and Trail helped, with each local government contributing $2,500 towards the group, but provincial funding had been cut. That was when CBT stepped in to the rescue.

“We were going to fold the program because we didn’t know what the future of the program was,” said previous Bear Aware coordinator Rachael Roussin. “Although the cities supported it, they didn’t really supply us with much funding. We ended up getting full program funding from the BC Conservation Foundation in the end. That was specifically thanks to some extra money kicked in by the Columbia Basin Trust.”

Thanks to the CBT’s contribution through the BC Conservation Foundation, the Kootenays are now far and away the Bear Aware leaders in BC, with eight full programs in action. Outside of the Kootenays there are only four other full programs being run.

Sharon Weider recently signed on as the new area Bear Aware Coordinator. Having just completed her training, she is excited to get on the ground and start rolling out some new initiatives.

“Living in Rossland with bears around and having a background in education the job seemed to be a perfect fit of getting out there working with people, letting them know about bears and our community and how we can have a relationship that works for both sides seemed like a great opportunity. The training has been awesome and I’m really looking forward to getting going.”

“Bears are out and about now so people should be doing all of the standard precautionary stuff, managing your attractants including bird feeders, garbage, compost and dirty BBQs,” explained conservation officer Businc. He also encourages people to call the RAPP line if they spot a problem bear in or around town. That number is 1-877-952-RAPP(7277). For more information on living safely in bear country, you can also check out the Bear Aware website.



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