Wildlife and Bears

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Protecting bears | Bear management | Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants bylaw | Bear food plants

What You Can Do To Protect Bears

Information on how to Bear Smart your home, what to do when you encounter a bear, bear viewing guidelines and more is available on the Get Bear Smart Society website.

You can also download brochures for visitors, residents and businesses. Many brochures come in other languages as well. Topics include: Bear Smart Whistler Resident’s Guide; Wildlife Smart Landscaping for Whistler – A Resident’s Guide and A Professional’s Guide; Composting in Bear Country; Bear Smart Whistler Visitor’s Guide;  Bear viewing: Where to find bears and how to behave while viewing them; Bear Smart Guide for Campers; Bear Smart Best Practices Guide for Whistler Businesses; Bear Smart Program for Restaurants; Bear Smart Construction Site Management Strategy – Staying safe while building in bear country – a bear smart guide for constructions sites in Whistler; Guidelines for Bear Smart Buildings – Suggestions and regulations on building structures in bear country.

If you see a bear near homes or playgrounds, want to report bear attractants (such as unsecured garbage) or learn more about bear-proofing your home, call 604-905-BEAR (2327).

For more information, send an email to bearsmart@whistler.ca

Bear Management In Whistler

The first Whistler Bear Working Group was formed in 1996 to provide a coordinated approach to minimizing human-bear conflicts in the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

After restructuring in 2012, the membership consists of agencies including the RMOW, Get Bear Smart Society, the Conservation Officer Service, and the RCMP.

The members of the Whistler Bear Working Group strive to:

  • Develop and help implement creative community-based solutions for minimizing human-bear conflicts;
  • Provide a forum for sharing information and resolving divergent views, and enabling coordinated responses to requests for information;
  • Participate in the evaluation of non-lethal bear management techniques and provide feedback to the partners; and
  • Provide a coordinated approach to community outreach and communications regarding the activities of the Working Group.

Many positive outcomes have been achieved towards the goal of minimizing human-bear conflicts, and in 2011, Whistler was recognized by the Ministry of Environment as one of the first Bear Smart Communities in the province.

Being a bear smart community means Whistler is committed to incorporating long-term bear smart practices into the community’s waste infrastructure, educational programs and residents’ lifestyles.

This is a community-driven initiative that requires continuous and cooperative efforts to further reduce human-bear conflicts. Only a few other B.C. communities have achieved this designation including the Village of Lions Bay, Squamish, Port Alberni and Kamloops. 

Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants Bylaw

Whistler implemented the Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants Bylaw as part of its ongoing commitment to being a Bear Smart community.

A key goal of the bylaw is to provide regulations for waste and wildlife attractant management that will contribute to reducing human-bear conflict.

The bylaw states that:

  • Every owner or occupier of a commercial, industrial, institutional and tourist accommodation building shall provide a garbage storage site located inside a building or within a wildlife proof enclosure.
  • Single family and multiple family residential development having twelve or more dwelling units shall provide a garbage storage site located inside a building or within a wildlife proof enclosure or within a wildlife resistant container.
  • No person shall store, handle or dispose of wildlife attractants in a way that they are accessible to wildlife.

The RMOW prepared a set of guidelines for the construction of wildlife proof enclosures to assist Whistler residents in building an appropriate structure.  Contact the RMOW Building Department for more information on the permitting process.

Residents without cars can find it challenging to dispose of their garbage to the municipal compactor sites located at Nesters Road and Function Junction. Check the Yellow Pages for garbage removal contractors or call the Bear Smart Program Assistant at 604-905-BEAR, option 3 for more information.

Bear Food Plants

In order to continue to reduce human-bear conflicts in Whistler, in 2013 the RMOW and Whistler Bear Working Group identified a short list of plants that are particularly attractive to bears and serve to draw them into areas where the plants are located. The plants on the list include:

  • Sorbus aucuparia (Mountain Ash, single stem tree),
  • Sorbus sitchensis (Mountain Ash, shrub, multi-stem),
  • Vaccinium (blueberries & huckleberries) and
  • Clover. 

These plants will no longer be approved for landscape plans that require municipal approval.