Tips for Living in Bear Country

Black Bear spring Whistler photo credit: Mike Crane

The main reason a bear will come near your home or place of work is for garbage, recycling or other food sources.

It is very important (and it’s the law in Whistler) to secure garbage and recycling in a wildlife proof manner and to keep all other bear attractants clean and/or out of reach.

Help keep Whistler’s bears and people safe by following these tips:

  1. Never feed or approach a bear. Keep your distance, back away slowly and leave the area. Stay at least 100 m away from bears at all times. Avoid encounters.
  2. Always manage your garbage and recycling, so that bears can’t access it. Put all garbage and recycling in wildlife-proof containers or enclosures, and ensure bins and buildings are always tightly closed or locked. Regularly wash all bins. See Whistler’s Solid Waste Bylaw for more details.
  3. Never leave food, garbage or recycling in your vehicle. Bears have a very strong sense of smell and can easily break into vehicles.
  4. Manage attractants such as barbeques, pet food, bird feeders and fruit and berry bushes. Keep them clean or out of reach, so they don’t tempt bears to hang around human-inhabited areas. 
  5. Spring and fall are critical times to manage your attractants, as food is limited and bears are especially hungry. 
  6. Keep your dog on a leash. Dogs can provoke defensive and dangerous behaviour in bears.
  7. Hike in groups. Keep your group close together and make lots of noise while moving through trails. 
  8. Keep your campsite bare and clean.
  9. Do not stop on the side of the road to view bears. If you see a bear while driving, slow down, but do not impede traffic flow to stop or view bears. Stopping creates unsafe driving conditions and can stress a bear by disrupting their eating pattern. Never get out of you car to view a bear on the side of the road.
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