A good year for bears, and for Revelstoke Bear Aware

2009 was a very successful year for bears in and around Revelstoke. This fall, I was often asked, “Where are the bears?” There was a total of only 34 calls made this year to the provincial Problem Wildlife phone line and to the Revelstoke Bear Aware phone line, compared with 162 calls last year. Revelstoke Bear Aware encourages everyone to report all bear sightings to determine where to focus the Bear Aware message. It would certainly appear that the reduction of reported sightings points to a decrease in the number of bears in the community.

Reports this season from Revelstoke’s many hikers, hunters and mountain bikers indicated there was a bumper crop of berries over a wide range of elevations. The abundance of natural food helped to keep our ursine neighbours in the wild, feeding on natural healthy bear food. Off course this does not mean we can be complacent. In the spring, there were reports of bears feeding on garbage and birdfeeders.

Only two bears this year were destroyed as a result of conflict with people. Both were black bears that were food conditioned to garbage. One of the bears was thought to have been living in one of the forested areas in our city for a number of years, enjoying a large bear stash (garbage collected from the surrounding houses). Although it would be preferable not to have any bears destroyed, two is much less than has been seen in the past three years.

The Revelstoke Bear Aware Society also had many successes in 2009:

  • Bear resistant residential garbage can pilot project: the pilot project was completed in Johnson Heights with the bear resistant garbage cans receiving huge support from the residents.
  • New Logo: Zuzanna Driediger, a local artist, volunteered her time and talent to create a new logo for the Society. (see above)
  • The Gleaning Project: In conjunction with Community Connections Food Bank, this initiative saw many volunteers picking fruit. Nine large laundry baskets of fruit were donated to the Community Connections Food Bank
  • Bear Hazard Map: Through in-kind support received from Parks Canada, GIS specialist Ron Larsen helped create a bear hazard map for Revelstoke
  • Bear Hazard Assessment and Bear-Human Conflict Management Plan: Plan created for Revelstoke
  • School garbage cans: Three elementary schools received bear proof garbage cans.
  • Elementary school programming: 82% of elementary students in Revelstoke received information on bear biology, ecology and safety.
  • City bear proof garbage bins: open garbage cans were replaced across from the Community Center and at Williamson Lake

Bear Can Community Centreleft: Open garbage can across from Community Center, Summer 2008. (photo courtesy of Francis Maltby) right: One year later, the can has been replaced with a new bear-proof garbage can.

Revelstoke Bear Aware would like to thank Columbia Basin Trust, British Columbia Conservation Foundation, British Columbia Conservation Corps, BC Hydro, Columbia Shuswap Regional District and local businesses for the funding they provided to this year’s program. Also, thank you to Parks Canada, the Conservation Officer Service, the School District and the City of Revelstoke for their valuable support. Finally, a big thanks to the many volunteers that made this year’s program so successful.

Although the bears are heading into their winter dens for a much quieter existence, Revelstoke Bear Aware will continue to work through the winter months. This time of the year is when the annual report is completed and funding requirements and work plan for next season are determined. All indications are that the province will not continue to provide funding, so a search for new means to fund next year’s program will begin right away. This will ensure the Bear Aware message continues to reach the people of Revelstoke including the many newcomers and visitors to our community.

Thanks for a great year, and thanks to everyone that called in a bear sighting and who did their best to secure all the bear attractants on their property.

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