The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and Province of BC have completed a strategy to minimize conflicts with grizzly bears on the alpine trails on Rainbow and Sproatt mountains.
The Human-Grizzly Bear Conflict Mitigation Strategy supports the Province’s grizzly bear recovery program and public safety mandate and was created in response to the 2018 trail closures that occurred in the area.
“We are committed to minimizing the impact of recreation and humans to the grizzly bear population that live within and use the Rainbow and Sproatt mountain area,” said Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton. “The strategy has been diligently prepared and incorporates recommendations to ensure the actions that we take keep both grizzly bears and humans safe.”
Many agencies involved
Many agencies are involved in the management of the alpine trail system on Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain.
The Human-Grizzly Bear Conflict Mitigation Strategy was put together with Recreation Sites and Trails BC; Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRO) Sea to Sky District Biologist, the Conservation Officer Service (COS) and the RMOW.
“This strategy is a result of excellent collaboration with both the RMOW and Provincial agencies,” added Crompton. “Continued collaboration going forward will be important to helping ensure we can protect the grizzly bear population.”
The strategy is underpinned by four key components: thoughtful planning, public education, enforcement and closures when necessary.
Specific actions include:
- Provide monitoring equipment to the Alpine Club of Canada – Whistler Section (ACC) for the Skywalk trail network
- Further train the Alpine Trail Rangers
- Ensure rangers monitor the watershed area seven days a week
- Continue working to establish a research and ranger station in the area
- Work with a consultant to develop and execute a comprehensive alpine signage and communications plan
As part of the work, the RMOW engaged wildlife biologist Grant MacHutchon to map out how grizzly bears use the vegetation and landscape on Rainbow and Sproatt mountains.
All of the biologist’s recommendations were incorporated into the 2020 work plan and include:
- Not building the trail or camping area at Beverly Lake
- Leaving Gin & Tonic Lakes basin undeveloped
- Developing a new route for South Flank Trail
- Assessing Skywalk and Pot of Gold trails for potential rerouting as well as implementing additional monitoring
- Installing additional signs and providing educational information
- Continuing to prohibit e-bikes and dogs on alpine trails
The strategy also includes a response and communications plan that identifies actions and lead agencies in the case of grizzly bear sightings and incidents.
Enforcement of the strategy will reside with the Province rather than RMOW Bylaw Services, given the Rainbow and Sproatt alpine network is on Crown land.
To learn more about bears in Whistler, visit whistler.ca/bears.