Whistler residents and visitors are reminded to be Bear Smart

Publication Date: May 4, 2022


Spring has arrived in Whistler, and Black Bears are coming out of hibernation. Bears have been spotted throughout the Village, in residential areas, on the Valley Trail and on golf courses. 

With the slow growth this year of spring vegetation due to weather bears may try to access alternative non-natural food sources to regain energy after hibernation. Whistler residents, businesses and visitors are asked to remove outdoor bear attractants, including: 

  • citronella candles; 
  • petroleum; 
  • barbecues; 
  • garbage,  
  • recyclables; 
  • compost;  
  • bird feeders; 
  • and pet food

It is important to keep these items inside or in a secure bear-proof location. Removing bird feeders, keeping pet food indoors, burning off food debris and cleaning grease traps on barbecues will significantly reduce bear attractants. With limited early season food sources this year, bears can be lured in by a wide variety of smells from long distances. 

In addition to removing attractants around homes, it is important to also prevent bears from trying to access attractants in vehicles. Never leave food, garbage or recycling in a vehicle. Sweet-smelling car air fresheners can also be attractants for bears. Locking vehicles when unattended will help prevent bears from accessing any items which may be enticing for them.  

Bear habituation, or comfort around humans, is often the first step to a bear becoming food-conditioned and associating humans with food. This behaviour is very difficult to reverse and often escalates to defensive behaviour or property damage. The most important step to prevent habituation is to ensure attractants are managed correctly.  

“During spring, when Whistler’s bears are coming out of hibernation, it’s more important than ever to bear-proof your home and remove attractants,” explained Mayor Jack Crompton. “Whistler residents and visitors play an important part in keeping bears wild by following Bear Smart guidelines.” 

The public is reminded to stay at least 100 meters away from bears at all times. If a bear is seen close by, back away slowly and leave the area. Early intervention is critical and can help usher them away from unnatural food sources and redirect their behaviour. If a bear is spotted in a residential area, it is important to call the Conservation Officer Service (COS) immediately.  

Conservation Officers have hazing methods to shepherd bears safely back into the wild. Hazing a bear involves creating a negative experience for a bear that seeks out human food or loses its natural avoidance of humans and developed areas. The COS records all reports of bear sightings which can help determine if a bear has become problematic and needs intervention.  

To report a bear sighting in residential areas, phone the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 or 604-905-BEAR. 

For more information on bear management visit whistler.ca/bears 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email