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Alberta BearSmart

How do we prevent problems between bears and people?

  • Remember that bears are clever, curious and live to eat. Bears are in a constant search for new food sources. Once they have discovered a new food source it is extremely difficult to keep them from returning to it. To prevent problems from starting, never leave any kind of food for the bear to find.
  • Remember that bears have an excellent sense of smell. Managing the smells of potential bear food - including human and pet foods, garbage, grains and harvested animals - is an essential part of preventing problems with bears.

    When in bear territory, keep food and garbage in airtight containers, and store anything that may have the smell of food or garbage away from humans and out of the reach of bears.

  • Be BearSmart. Most bear encounters can be prevented. Learn how to avoid bear encounters and how to react if you find yourself in an unavoidable encounter with a bear.

What is the Alberta BearSmart Program?

BearSmart is a public awareness program for people visiting, living or working in bear territory. Our goals are to:

  • Empower Albertans with the information to make safe decisions when in bear territory
  • Help bear populations survive by educating people on how to prevent encounters and how to respond appropriately in a bear encounter
  • Reduce property damage caused by bears

To learn more about the BearSmart public awareness program and how it works, see:

To help kids learn how to be BearSmart, see:

Why is BearSmart necessary?

Human activities have become more frequent in bear territory. As a result, bear habitats have become more fragmented and encounters between bears and humans more common.

Encounters between bears and people may have unfortunate consequences for both the bears and people involved:

  • Bear attacks

    Though quite rare, bear attacks can injure or even kill a human. If this happens, the bear will likely be found and destroyed.
  • Forced bear relocation

    Bears become used to human camps, garbage dumps, residential areas, ranches and farms when they learn these locations can provide easy meals. Once a bear gets used to an area that is also frequented by people, the chances of a bear-human encounter increase.

    Moving and collaring problem bears doesn’t always solve the problem:

    • The bear may return to the area it was removed from, and continue its problem behaviour, or it may continue the problem behaviour in the area where it was relocated.
    • Relocating the bear can place it in the territory of another bear that may lead to the death of the relocated bear.
    • Relocating a bear is costly and places a heavy demand on personnel and equipment.

Related Information

Bear Identification - Know Your Bears

YouTube Videos


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Updated: Oct 29, 2018