Frequently Asked Questions about the Crowsnest Pass BearSmart Community
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Crowsnest Pass BearSmart Community History
How long has Crowsnest Pass been a BearSmart Community?
The municipal council passed its resolution to become a BearSmart community in May 2006 and our programming began that summer.
Why did Crowsnest Pass become a BearSmart Community?
The Crowsnest Pass is experiencing habitat loss and fragmentation along the community corridor with country residential developments between existing communities, economic developments, and Highway 3 all posing significant barriers to wildlife movement.
Furthermore, many locals and visitors choose to recreate in and around the Crowsnest Pass because of the beautiful scenery and boundless opportunities.
The rapid increase in rural residential and vacation homes in Crowsnest Pass and the area’s growing popularity with outdoor enthusiasts has caused an rise in human-bear conflicts and destruction of habituated bears.
What steps did Crowsnest Pass take to become a BearSmart Community?
A citizen-led BearSmart Committee was established with support from Alberta Fish and Wildlife and the Crowsnest Conservation Society.
In conjunction with the Miistakis Institute for the Rockies, we completed a bear hazard assessment to identify hot spot locations and primary attractants.
BearSmart strategies were incorporated into municipal bylaws to address proper management of garbage and other animal attractants.
BearSmart Education and Outreach
How do you get community members to participate?
Engagement of citizens is ongoing through
- participation in community events like festivals/parades, trade shows and educational presentations
- one-on-one consultations with residents and business owners
- use of the local print and broadcast media
- consistent recruitment of volunteers to maintain the committee’s capacity
What advice would you give to other communities that would like to become BearSmart?
A working partnership between your town leaders, government agencies, school groups, non-profit groups, and community members is necessary to facilitate community buy-in and to get the support needed to run the program.
An affiliation with a local registered charity (e.g., naturalists group, conservation society) may be necessary when applying to granting agencies.
Challenges, Successes and the Future
What are some of the challenges that you face? How do you overcome them?
Two of the largest challenges are ingrained negative attitudes about bears and a general unwillingness to assume responsibility for personal safety or that of neighbours, visitors, and property.
As our program has been running now for several years, we are beginning to see small advances. But we also recognize that changing attitudes takes time and also requires the adoption and enforcement of by-laws dealing with attractants (specifically garbage, fruit, and birdseed).
What are some of your successes/favourite parts of your program?
Our fruit round-up with local Grade 5 students, apple exchange network, and bear-proof garbage bin loan program are all well utilized.
We have also experienced great public support for workshops on bear awareness/safety and worm composting. Recently, we have been able to provide permanent solutions to bear-in-garbage problems by offering grant-subsidized, bear-resistant garbage bins for sale.
What other BearSmart activities would you like to do in your community?
While we have made significant progress towards BearSmart garbage management practices through adoption of a municipal bylaw, ongoing work with the waste collection contractor, business owners, and managers of public spaces is necessary to ensure conversion to bear-proof garbage receptacles or dumpsters.
We would also like to expand our educational programming into the local schools and utilize movable signage within the community to provide timely BearSmart messaging.
Learn more about the Crowsnest Conservation Society here:
Posted: Nov 1, 2013