Whistler is committed to incorporating long-term bear smart practices into the community
Protecting bears is important to the Whistler community. It is our shared responsibility to reduce human-bear conflicts. Only a few B.C. communities have achieved the Bear Smart designation, including the Village of Lions Bay, Squamish, Port Alberni, Kamloops, Naramata, and New Denver.
From managing your garbage to keeping your dog on a leash, there are many actions you can take to reduce human-bear conflicts.
Municipal Bear Management Program
Whistler’s Bear Management Program is coordinated by the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) Bear Advisory Committee (WBAC), which is run by the Environmental Stewardship Department in partnership with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, RCMP, Whistler Blackcomb, AWARE, and GFL Environmental (previously Carney's Waste Systems).
Developed in 2009 and updated in 2016, the WBAC’s Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan focuses the efforts of municipal and partner organizations’ on joint priorities, such as:
- Ensuring future trail and recreation sites have information signs describing how to identify and protect black and grizzly bears;
- Reviewing the RMOW Special Events Guidelines regularly for opportunities to include additional bear smart practices;
- Reducing bear habituation and improving the safety of wildlife viewing on Callaghan Road;
- Working with Whistler Blackcomb to reduce human-bear conflict and bike park collisions;
- Reducing the potential for human-bear conflict through policies, bylaw and enforcement initiatives, community outreach and education.
The continued joint effort of the WBAC and members of the community is essential for keeping Whistler’s bears and people safe.
Since 1995, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has actively tried to reduce and prevent human-bear conflicts in the community. In 2006, Whistler applied to the provincial government for Bear Smart Community status. The 2009 Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan was adopted by Council in June 2010, which was the final step in applying to the provincial government for Bear Smart Community status.
In October 2011, the BC Ministry of Environment officially named the RMOW a Bear Smart Community. Since then, the RMOW has worked with partners to further reduce human-bear conflict in Whistler.
Grizzly-Human Conflict Mitigation Strategy
The RMOW and the Province of BC have 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. The 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.
The strategy is underpinned by four key components: coordinated planning, public education, enforcement and closures when necessary. Enforcement will reside with the Province rather than RMOW Bylaw Services, given the Rainbow and Sproatt alpine network is on Crown land.
Bear Smart Restaurant Program
Whistler’s Bear Smart Restaurant Program is now being offered as a free online training course. The program offers restaurant staff and managers practical and cost effective solutions to minimize human-bear conflict at their workplace—most of which can be easily avoided. Learn more.
Find out more about bears and bear management in Whistler.