Ministry of Environment "Bear Smart Community Program


Bear Smart BC Consulting works in partnership with the Ministry of Environment to deliver the “Bear Smart” Community Program to BC Municipalities and Regional Districts. Based on years of experience working with communities/regional districts, the Directors of Bear Smart BC Consulting are experienced with the policies and procedures that govern municipal involvement with human-bear conflict reduction.

The Ministry of Environment Bear Smart Community Program is a proactive conservation strategy aimed at addressing the root causes of human-bear conflicts to reduce the risk to human safety and private property as well as the number of bears destroyed annually.

The Bear Smart Community Program report outlines 6 criteria that provide the framework to support the development of a proactive bear-conflict management program. When communities show progress in each steps of the following 6 criteria they become eligible to apply for official Bear Smart Community Status. 





 Prepare a Bear Hazard Assessment using  required criteria


 Prepare a Human-Bear Conflict Management  Plan designed to address the  bear hazards  and land-use conflicts identified in the hazard  assessment.


 Revise planning and decision-making  documents to be consistent with the  human-  bear conflict management plan.


 Implement a continuing education program  directed at all sectors of the  community.


 Develop and maintain a bear-proof municipal  solid waste management  system.


 Implement “Bear Smart” bylaws prohibiting  the provision of food to bears  as a result of  intent, neglect, or irresponsible management  of attractants.  These regulations also set the  standard for how local constituents are  expected to co-exist with wildlife within the  municipality/regional district.

Criteria 1. Bear Hazard Assessment

The Bear Hazard Assessment provides a problem analysis specific to the community including the following requirements by means of GIS mapping and written documentation:

  1. review of patterns of historic human-bear conflicts based on Problem Wildlife Occurrence Reports for bears and Conservation Officer personal communication;
  2. identification of major non-natural and natural features that may influence travel patterns of bears including major roads, community edges, and green space;
  3. identification of general and high-use bear habitat and potential natural movement patterns including travel corridors within the adjacent community;
  4. identification of human-use areas that have a high risk for human-bear conflict such as schools, playgrounds, campgrounds and areas adjacent to bear habitat such as walking hiking and biking trails;
  5. identification of non-natural food sources and attractants;
  6. identification of regional, inter-provincial, and/or international issues in areas outside the community that may influence the effectiveness of the Bear Smart Community Program, such as non-natural food sources outside the community but within the home range of a bear that uses the community.

Criteria 2. Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan

The purpose of the management plan is to provide a general summary of human-bear conflict issues within the community and to address the issues identified in the bear hazard assessment. The management plan:

  1. identifies preferred wildlife movement corridors around the community and any work required to restore natural corridors that have been interrupted by human activity and development;
  2. determines what is necessary to address each problem successfully and makes recommendations for how to manage each problem;
  3. considers the level of tolerance of the community towards maintaining or restoring natural bear habitats adjacent to the community such as travel corridors and feeding areas;
  4. clearly establishes goals for the success of the program;
  5. identifies the agencies, groups, and individual roles and responsibilities with respect to implementing the components of the Bear Smart Program; and
  6. sets priorities for specific action to be taken to implement the program.

Criteria 3. Revise Planning and Decision-Making Documents

The purpose of this criterion is to ensure the community has committed to implementing the recommendations of the management plan by incorporating them in official community documents. These recommendations include, but are not limited to:

  1. revised components of the Municipal and Regional Solid Waste Management Plan;
  2. revised the Official Community Plan to reflect the bear-human conflict management plan;
  3. consideration to avoid development in areas of important bear habitat and travel corridors in all documents related to land-use decisions; and
  4. revised land zoning consistent with any revisions of the Official Community Plan.

Criteria 4. Implement an Education Program 

The purpose of an education program is to have an on-going source for community outreach to inform the public about bears and how to manage attractants. The education program should:

  1. help individuals and communities reduce the frequency of human-bear conflicts within and around their communities;
  2. develop a greater understanding of bear ecology, behavior, and bear-human conflicts;
  3. facilitate support from local government and residents for bear proofing the community, including identifying methods and options for eliminating bears' access to non-natural food and attractants;
  4. educate the community regarding human activities in bear habitat to reduce the likelihood of bear-human conflict;
  5. recommend actions to take during a bear encounter;
  6. encourage tolerance towards the natural behaviours and the presence of bears in reasonable numbers in or near the community;
  7. educate businesses (e.g., restaurants, campgrounds, etc.) regarding minimizing attractants; and
  8. Increase individual and community awareness and understanding of bears and bear-human conflict by using the following tactics:
  • Media relationships
  • Community support for the program
  • Recruiting volunteers
  • Working with Conservation Officers
  • Establishment of a bear advisory committee
  • Door-to-door campaigning
  • Distribution of educational materials
  • School programs
  • Park Interpretive programs
  • Signage

Criteria 5. Develp and Maintain a Bear Resistant Solid Waste Mangement System

Bearsavers_Ukee_Days_2007.JPGAs access to garbage is the primary cause of bear-human conflicts, the purpose of this criterion is to ensure the community has implemented a bear resistant waste management system. As part of the program, the following criteria must be met:

  1. all municipally owned and operated components of putrescent waste management system collection, transfer, disposal, recycling, and composting (where applicable) are bear proof in areas that are accessible or frequented by bears;
  2. bylaws have been implemented to ensure that the same is true for all private sector components of putrescent municipal solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, recycling, and composting (where applicable);
  3. a compliance strategy has been implemented for the municipal solid waste management bylaws;
  4. disposal of garbage is in a landfill that is located in a properly designed, constructed, and operated electric fence in which is aggressively maintained to ensure that it is operating at full capacity and cannot be breached; and
  5. landfills are managed to reduce the potential for bear-human conflicts (see Environmental Management Branch information regarding municipal solid waste management here).  

Criteria 6. Implement Bear Smart Bylaws

In order to ensure compliance with the goals of the Bear Smart Community Program, bylaws may need to be implemented to prohibit the supply of food to bears. These include:

  1. bylaws stating that no person shall store any refuse that is a wildlife/bear attractant in a manner that is accessible to wildlife/bears;
  2. if using a curb-side collection system, time restrictions have been implemented so that garbage cannot be put at the curb until the morning of pick-up after a specific time (i.e. 6am) and the container must be returned to a bear proof location by a specific time (i.e. 7pm);
  3. attractants must be stored in a bear proof container or location such as in a house or garage and not in a garden shed, carport, or wooden box;
  4. bird feeders are allowed but within certain restrictions during non-denning periods but must be suspended from a cable or other device so that they are inaccessible to bears.
  5. Fruit trees must be adequately maintained to reduce the attraction to bears (i.e. pick up windfall, ensure ripe fruit is harvested); and
  6. garbage at special community events (i.e. weddings, tournaments, concerts, etc.) must be removed at the end of each day's activities.