The scary bear campfire story is a staple of Alberta camping – and there’s a reason for that. Bears are very large, very powerful, very wild animals – and to us, they can seem very unpredictable. But in fact, we know a lot about the steps we can take to minimize the risk of bear encounters. Alberta’s BearSmart program is designed to help Albertans put those steps into practice.
The program provides a different list of precautions for campers, residential areas, farmers, and businesses, but all the tips come down to the same thing: understanding the causes of human-bear interactions and minimizing them.
There’s no bigger bear attractant than the smell of food. While it makes sense that predators would be attracted by a big, raw steak, other things – like garbage and recycling – might not be as obvious. But improperly stored garbage is the most common culprit behind bear encounters – and it’s crucial that Albertans in bear country take steps to minimize this risk.
That’s exactly what two new Clearwater County bylaws are designed to do. The county is establishing two new subdivisions in Nordegg and requiring that all garbage and recycling in those areas be located off the street in weather proof, bear-resistant containers. This might seem like common sense, but these are some of the first bylaws in Alberta to establish such straightforward management standards for areas that haven’t even been developed yet. Crowsnest Pass has recently passed a similar bylaw for its residents, and we’re hoping other communities will follow.
Laws are a great way to make sure Albertans take bear hazards seriously – but of course, they’re not the only way. We know that lots of great BearSmart work is being done across the province – and we’d like to feature more of it right here.
Let us know in the comments if your community or business is implementing Bear Smart recommendations in interesting new ways, and your story might be featured in a blog post of its own.