Upping our bear smarts

Oceanside residents get some training in how to avoid bear problems

Following numerous bear sightings and the destruction of eight bears in less than a year, a new initiative to reduce human bear conflict while educating students has been begun in Qualicum Beach.

Students from Vancouver Island University (VIU) are teaming up with Bear Smart BC Society and the Conservation Officer Service to review municipal planning documents and bear complaints as well as conduct interviews and community surveys to resolve some of the problems the town is seeing.

“They are going to find out what the attitudes and perceptions are of local residents with regards to bears,” said Exeuctive director of Bear Smart BC Society, Crystal McMillan. “We can then use that information and target it to unique educational initiatives based on the what the local residents are saying. It’s a great thing.”

On Friday, thirty students from VIU’s Resource Management Officer Technology Program (RMOT) had their first orientation at Crown Mansion in Qualicum Beach. The program will continue to run for the next six weeks.

McMillan said once the program is over it’s up to the Town of Qualicum Beach what they decide to do with the information collected, but the recommendation is it is complied into a bear hazard assessment, the first step in becoming a Bear Smart Community by the provincial Ministry of Environment. 

 For more on B.C’s Bear Smart Community program visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart/bearsmintro.html.


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