Building a bear-smart community refers to the act of effectively overseeing and limiting the things that attract bears into the community, managing human activities, and establishing policies and practices for non-lethal bear control techniques. While building a bear-smart community is a multifaceted task that requires strategy and hard work, here are some tips that can help you along the way to making your community bear-smart:
Conduct a Bear Hazard Assessment
Your first step in building a bear-smart community should be conducting a bear hazard assessment that will provide you with the information you need regarding where the bear problem is and what (species of bear) you’re dealing with. During your bear hazard assessment, you should identify potential human-bear conflicts and conflict zones, and start to think about bear control recommendations.
Put in Place a Plan
After a hazard assessment has been completed, you should use the information gathered from the assessment to formulate and implement a bear management plan. Putting together a plan can be hard work, and will require the cooperation of multiple agencies. The plan should highlight the roles of different organizations and agencies, and how bears will be managed if they do wander into town.
Education – Be Smart, Be Safe
One of the biggest aspects of building a bear-smart community is to educate community members about the hazards of bears and how to avoid attracting bears. Part of being bear-smart includes:
• Properly throwing away garbage (especially food).
• Avoiding using bird feeder during bear season.
• Keeping lawns and yards in tip-top shape (bears love to eat dandelions and clover).
• Keeping your car clean and free from food or anything else that might smell tempting to a bear.
• Securing your home by keeping windows and doors closed to prevent the smell of food from wafting outdoors.
• Using a bear-proof composter.
• Not using citronella (the scent attracts bears).
• Washing your barbeque grill after use.
• Feeding pets, and keeping pet food, indoors.
• Harvesting veggies as they ripen, as vegetables like carrots in a garden will attract bears.
• Thinking about using electric fencing to keep bears off of property if you have a garden, chicken coops, or fruit-bearing trees or bushes.
In addition to managing properties, part of community education should include what to do while on trails and in campsites. Community members should watch out for bears while hiking, keep dogs on leaches, hike in groups rather than solo, never leave food in campgrounds, and pay attention to posted signs about bear activity.
By following the tips listed above, you’ll be well on your way to establishing a bear-safe community.