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Lions Bay Bear Smart Update

Village One of Only Ten Bear Smart Communities in BC

Tsaw’in, after his rescue by Critter Care.

Lions Bay is one of only ten BC communities that has achieved Bear Smart status. The Bear Smart Community program, designed by the provincial government, is a voluntary, preventative conservation measure that encourages communities, businesses and individuals to work together.

The goal is to address the root causes of human-bear conflicts, thereby reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.

After several bear killings in and around the Village from 1999 to 2001, a group of concerned residents and councillors joined forces to put an end to this problem and, thanks to them, Lions Bay was awarded Bear Smart status in 2011.

Bear Smart practices became so well-entrenched that the committee lapsed, but in 2021 it became clear education was again required and Bear Smart was revived by Councillor Neville Abbott. Several volunteers stepped up, including resident Norma Rodgers, who had been instrumental in achieving the certification a decade earlier.

A key obstacle was a longstanding mistrust by many of the Conservation Officer Services (COS) due to the number of bears that had been destroyed in the past. But to better understand bear activity and get ahead of potential issues, the team needed information from the community and implemented a confidential online reporting tool in the late fall of 2021, after consultation with the COS. Today, there is ongoing liaison with them as part of Lions Bay's Bear Smart certification.

The reporting tool played a vital role in 2022’s unusually busy bear season. Reports informed the implementation of waste collection time slots based on areas reflecting high bear activity. Thanks to widespread support, the instances of bears accessing curbside garbage and food waste were greatly reduced. Sadly, even with these measures in place, human error led to two bears being killed in Lions Bay by the COS for the first time in over a decade. As in other communities, property audits by Bylaw Enforcement Officers and a wildlife educator were added to the list of tools.

After a Global TV story about the rescue of a bear cub in late 2022, the village found itself in the spotlight as a community with a strong commitment to living amicably with bears. Four BC communities have since reached out to Lions Bay Bear Smart in the hope that a united effort will lead to a more informed understanding of bear behaviour and better ways to coexist with these peaceful animals across the province. Most were appalled to learn that bears are rarely relocated but instead are routinely destroyed. According to COS reports, 588 BC bears were destroyed in 2022; only 11 were relocated.

Our little cub Tsaw’in, shown in the picture above, weighed just 18 pounds when rescued by Critter Care Wildlife Society, an animal rescue group headquartered in Langley. He was released into the wild in June, once the black bear hunting season had ended.

Recent reports to and Bear Smart have indicated some residents are not complying with the Garbage and Recycling Collection Bylaw, including ensuring that waste is not accessible to wildlife. Other directives include:

  • Never store your garbage/food waste outside unless it’s in a bear-proof enclosure (wooden sheds are not bear-proof).

  • Only put your garbage and food waste out during your time slot on Fridays.

  • Freeze food waste before putting it curbside in a can with a secure lid.

  • Do not store food in outdoor fridges/freezers.

For more detailed information, please visit our website.

Meanwhile, property audits resumed last week. Audits are prioritized based on bear activity and in some instances there is a correlation between bad human behaviour and increased bear traffic, but in almost all the 100-plus reports received this year, bears are simply passing by.

Lions Bay Bear Smart would like to thank all who have supported and encouraged our efforts and continue to care for our bears.

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