Bear Smart Committee holds first meeting

The Port Hardy Districts Bear Smart Advisory Committee will have its first meeting Thursday, Sept. 15.

Port Hardy’s Bear Smart program will be taking another step forward.

The district’s Bear Smart Advisory Committee will have its first meeting on Thursday Sept. 15, at 10 a.m. at the Municipal Hall, says Director of Corporate & Development Services Heather Nelson-Smith.

The agenda will include discussing the key components of the Bear Smart Community Program with those that work and live in Port Hardy.

“At this point we have 12 confirmed (members) from the organizations that we have contacted,” Nelson-Smith said.

These include individuals identified as likely participants from organizations such as the Conservation Officer Service; Ministry of Environment; Wildlife Conflict Management; First Nations; local government; Regional District of Mount Waddington; Solid Waste Collectors; Rod and Gun Clubs; Naturalist Groups; RCMP; and Tourism/Chamber of Commerce.

The topics of discussion include: Port Hardy Bear Smart Achievements & Progress; a Conservation Officer Service Report; Volunteer recruitment for community outreach; and an Adopt a format for action.

The main goals of becoming a Bear Smart Community are to increase public safety and to reduce the number of bears destroyed as a result of human caused problems.

“In order to accomplish this, we need to educate our community on how to prevent conflict with bears at their residence, their work place, and recreational areas,” she said.

To date, the district has completed the development of a Bear Hazard Assessment and Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan.

“These documents are two of the key criterion required by the provincial government for a community to become officially designated as a ‘Bear Smart Community’,” Nelson-Smith said.

The Bear Hazard Assessment identified high-use areas by bears in the community, travel corridors, natural food sources, non-natural food attractants, and areas of human use with potential for conflict within bear habitat such as school yards and walking trails.

“The Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan provided council with strategies and associated action plans to manage human-bear conflict,” she said.

The Bear Smart Community Program was introduced by the Province of BC in 2004 to assist communities and wildlife management agencies in reducing conflict with bears. The program has evolved over the years and is providing guidance and best practices, combined with incentives for communities to participate in the Program.

According to Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick the first meetings will notbe open to the public however, “there will be more public interaction coming up, because that’s what it is about. Awareness, communication to the community to work together.