Who we are
We are a not-for-profit volunteer organization working to reduce conflicts between residents and the wildlife that reside in the valley. Our group consists of qualified and educated volunteers. Volunteers learn firsthand how to read and understand bear behaviour, and how to safely deal with situations involving bears. Our group is then able to educate the public with evidence-based training and not just an academic understanding. Volunteers become certified after reaching requirements set out by the executive members of the Crowsnest Pass Bearsmart Association board.
Environment and Parks BearSmart Program consists of local certified volunteers that are used to assist different government staff in managing two species of bears within the Crowsnest Pass area.
Over several years different community projects were introduced, aiming at managing bear behaviour and attractant management. Allowing a co-existence between wildlife and humans.
The primary goals that the Association works towards is to
- The amount of officer man-hours spent on bear complaints;
- The number of bear mortalities;
- Bear relocations;
- The number of bear conflicts with the public and property based on a ‘Community Policing’ model.
The program had a successful year for 2015 in the areas of public contact and awareness. The number of incidents varied throughout the 5 communities comprising the Crowsnest Pass. Bellevue and Hillcrest were much quieter compared to 2014. Successful removal of historic apple trees, purchases of bear proof bins, fines issued by bylaw officers, social media, education and overall presence of volunteers changed much of the bear’s and resident’s behavior. Blairmore and Coleman were busier. The issues were addressed and should be quieter in 2016.
With a little incentive, the public, local businesses, schools and local MD, stepped forward to bearsmart their community on different levels. Fish and Wildlife Officers have been spending less time on issues because of the involvement of community volunteers. With the replacement of the Fire Chief and Bylaw Officer with CNP Protective Services, the replacements soon recognized the benefit of a community partnership towards the common cause of “Public Safety.” Operationally it was a successful season.
Again, overall the majority of the public had positive feedback with the presence of volunteers and officers during presentations, door knocking, and general patrols.
Some negative feedback was noted by a few individuals when tickets were issued by the local Bylaw Officer. With the bearsmart volunteer staff being seen in the community with a proactive approach, their motivation resulted in residents communicating more with their neighbours to improve the management of attractants.
Due to a considerable number of complaints over the past years, the local Waste Management business, Crowsnest Pass Waste Disposal, have been approached requesting them to re-furbish their community dumpster so to meet bear proof standards. Finally, through public pressure and officer advocacy, a total over-haul was made and all dumpsters in hotspot locations were bear-proofed. 100% success rate on bears unable to gain access.
No government funding was available to run the program this season, but through dedication and passion by the volunteers, and a few donations, the Association obtained the goals they strived for.
The BearSmart group would like to thank all the communities for their support and dedication in the past, present and future. A special thank you to the Hillcrest Fish and Game Association, CNP Protective Services, RCMP members, local Municipal Enforcement Officer, Environment and Parks staff, JSG Officers, Pass Herald and Mountain Radio for all your support and assistance in helping us to make our communities BearSmart.
What we do
Successful projects within the Crowsnest Pass:
- Creation and amending of local Garbage and Wildlife Attractant Bylaws * Joint effort with Crowsnest Pass Protective Services
- Bear awareness educational courses for industry, public and recreational businesses. Bear Awareness training for the public is scheduled during spring and fall periods.
- Emergency removal of apples from trees by volunteers that have bears
presently near by.
- Cutting and removal of apple trees from historic problem locations.
Partnership with local tree cutting company, Alpine Green Works Ltd.
- Assisting Protective Services, Bylaw Officer on garbage and animal
attractant Bylaws violations.
- Loan Program-Emergency loan of Bear proof garbage bins
- Local radio announcements on Bear Awareness;
Joint Effort with Mountain Radio
- School presentations, TV interviews, Provincial exposure.
- Trade shows Promoting Bearsmart Program, KBDs and JSG
- Wildlife Expo “Going Wild”. (Officers and Bearsmart volunteers)
- “Door Knocking”. After the sighting of a bear within a residential area. Volunteers would inform the public of its presence, offer educational documents and conduct attractant assessment of yard site.
- Writing bear awareness articles for local newspapers.
- Continue working Partnership with the Hillcrest Fish and Game Club
- Continue close working relationship with RCMP and local government.
- Agent in distributing purchased bear proof bins for community
- Attend neighbouring Fish and Wildlife Districts community events to
promote the Bearsmart message.
How we do it
From Alberta Fish & Wildlife Blairmore District
|NUMBER OF BEARS DEALT WITHIN DISTRICT||27||33|
|TOTAL NUMBER OF OCCURRENCES||213||222|
2- Family groups noted this season.
Sow- 3 cubs
Sow -2 cubs
The interpretation of the word “Conflict” is very broad and sometimes doesn’t clearly explain the behavior of the bear and its activity. A conflict to one person may be different from another. Opinions vary when giving information to the person taking data and how the data is than entered.
Bear walks by yard site but still on public lands. May be entered as “Sighting”
Bear walks by yard but crosses over a small portion of that private land.
Now entered as “Conflict.”
Is the bear a conflict or not?
This issue needs to be addressed to obtain accurate data.
|NUMBER OF BEARS DEALT WITHIN DISTRICT||4||4|
|TOTAL NUMBER OF OCCURRENCES||49||63|
$250.00 for violation
Garbage and Animal Attractant Bylaw Violations
2015 season.. 29 Charges
2014 Season.. 6 Charges
VOLUNTEER STATS: Monitoring, Events, Door knocking and Training
Kilometres Driven- 13,730
Hours on program- 2784
Kilometres Driven- 9111
Hours on program- 1175.60
Bear Awareness and Bear Spray Training
Several hundred pamphlets and magnets given to individuals during presentations. Very important to continue funding these items and create new styles.
Offered to CNP Community
General Talks to Public
Managed by Volunteers.
Listed as : “ Crowsnest Pass Bearsmart Association ”
2015 Apple Picking
Trees picked- 8
Trees cut down- 3
More residents noted picking their apples this year.
Chamber of Commerce
Wildlife Expo- “Going Wild”
Loan Bear Proof Bins Program…
36-Sold (Agent in distributing purchased bear proof bins for community)
Training and Certification of volunteers
13 hours spent training in 2015
Each volunteer must be recertified each year.
Outline of certification
Training Certification-Bearsmart Volunteers-Annually
- Proper Bear Spray Use and Bear awareness course
- Clear understanding of telemetry equipment. Location two hidden bear transmitters through use of telemetry equipment
- Identification of wildlife tracks and species-cougar-grizzly-blackbear
- Full understanding of Bearsmart Program and guidelines.
- Bear behavior interpretation in field.
- Communication with public-Proper P.R communication skills .
- Review Bear Behavior Videos
- 2016 upcoming training-Portable radio operation & voice procedure. Radios supplied by local MD- Protective Services
- Bear Spray training-Day and evening
- Locating 2 hidden ear tag transmitters
- Knowledge of bear behavior-In field
Measure of Success….
- Reduced number of apple and garbage incidents within the overall area of the Crowsnest Pass
- Increased number of positive feedbacks from the public on social media sites and Contacts in the field. Resulting in less complaints to Ministers on poor managementand judgement calls.
- Increased purchases of bear proof bins within the community.
- Additional partnerships formed.
- Aversion component successful on a high percentage of bears that entered prohibited sites.
- Less bear relocations by officers
- Less bears euthanized by officers
- 100% success rate on bears unable to gain access to dumpsters.