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.
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment -
“It takes tremendous dedication for a community to become Bear Smart. On average, seven bears a year were being destroyed in Naramata because of conflicts with people. Since engaging in the Bear Smart program, this number was drastically reduced to only two bears in four years. Congratulations on becoming the first Okanagan Bear Smart community.”
Dan Ashton, MLA for Penticton -
“Congratulations to the community of Naramata for achieving Bear Smart status. The hard work and dedication by all members of the community has made a real impact, not only to the safety of residents but to the bears. You have set a great example for all communities to follow.”
Karla Kozakevich, director, Regional District of the Okanagan-Similkameen -
“The efforts demonstrated by the citizens of Naramata in combination with local authorities have reduced human-bear conflict, increased the safety of the community and helped keep wildlife wild. Bear Smart status will allow for a continued focus on enforcing curbside garbage bylaws, wildlife education and awareness.”
- The Bear Smart Community program is designed by the Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
- Communities where attractants are managed properly have seen a decline in related human-wildlife conflicts, and in the number of animals that have to be destroyed.
- The most effective and natural way to reduce human-wildlife interaction is to secure food attractants such as garbage, birdseed, compost, pet food and fruit.
- Relocating wildlife is neither viable nor a long-term solution in managing these kinds of conflicts. Often, relocated wildlife will return to conflict situations or will not survive competing with already established populations.
- Over the last 20 years, the incidents of human-bear conflicts in BC have gone down. This can be credited, in part, to public awareness programs such as Bear Smart and WildSafeBC as well as improved enforcement tools regarding feeding of dangerous wildlife.
For more information on the Bear Smart Communities program, visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/bearsmart
For more information about WildSafeBC, visit: www.wildsafebc.com
Predator statistics, including black bears, grizzly bears and cougars are updated monthly at: www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/info/wildlife_human_interaction/predator-conflicts.html
Report human-wildlife conflicts to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line toll-free at 1 877 952-7277 (RAPP), or visit the RAPP website at: www.rapp.bc.ca
Ministry of Environment