Naramata becomes B.C.’s newest Bear Smart community
Located in the heart of wine country, Naramata is prime territory for bears to roam. Naramata has been honoured for their exceptional collaborative approach to reducing human-bear conflicts as the sixth community in the province to achieve Bear Smart status.
The Bear Smart Community program encourages local governments, businesses and individuals to work together to address the root causes of human-bear conflicts, reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.
Education in human-bear conflict prevention is shared across Naramata through booths at farmers markets, door-to-door awareness and school presentations. The community also implemented a comprehensive bear-proof municipal waste management system and completed all the additional actions required to obtain Bear Smart status.
Garbage patrols are conducted regularly and residents are held accountable for their actions. Those who do not comply with the community’s curbside bylaw, (garbage bins can only be placed for pickup after 5 a.m. on collection day) receive letters providing important information so all residents become part of the solution, not the problem.
Naramata joins the City of Kamloops, the District of Squamish, the Village of Lions Bay, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and the City of Port Alberni as Bear Smart communities. Over 20 other communities in B.C. are actively pursuing Bear Smart status.
Community requirements for Bear Smart status include:
- Preparing a bear hazard assessment of the community and surrounding area.
- Preparing a human-bear conflict management plan designed to address bear hazards and land use conflicts.
- Revising planning and decision-making documents to be consistent with the human-bear conflict management plan.
- Implementing a continuing education program, directed at all sectors of the community.
- Developing and maintaining a bear-proof municipal solid waste management system.
- Implementing Bear Smart bylaws prohibiting feeding bears, whether as a result of intent, neglect, or irresponsible management of attractants.
In 2013/14, the Conservation Officer Service received 28,063 calls regarding human-wildlife conflicts in B.C. Of those calls, 16,180 involved human-bear conflicts. The total number of black bear and grizzly bear calls was down slightly from the previous year.
Over the past five years in B.C., an average of 658 black bears have been destroyed each year, while 91 have been relocated due to conflicts with people.