The primary goal of the Bear Smart program is to reduce the rate and intensity of human/bear conflicts, which in turn, increases public safety and reduces both property damage and the number of bears needlessly killed. Using proactive management, communities can reduce conflicts between humans and bears by identifying and eliminating the root cause of conflicts.
The purpose of enacting Municipal Bear Smart bylaws is to provide for safer communities while minimizing the creation and destruction of problem bears. Negative human interaction with bears needs to be managed to the best extent possible; bylaws must be designed by each municipality with the unique needs of the community at heart.
Bear Smart bylaws are an important element in the overall efforts to reduce human/bear conflicts and must be used in conjunction with other preventative initiatives such as education and awareness.
On July 21, Council gave third reading to the revised Wildlife Attractant Bylaw No. 2053. In 2005, the District of Squamish enacted Wildlife Attractants Bylaw No.1876 but in order to better align the bylaw requirements to the specific and unique concerns of the community, revisions to the existing bylaw were required. The revisions remove uncertainty and assist the Bylaw Enforcement Office with the enforcement process.
An area that required addressing was the commercial sector. As a part of the planning process, new developments are now required to either have bear resistant containers for all waste or they must house all refuse containers within wildlife resistant enclosures. Schedule A and Guideline A address the necessary requirements for a wildlife resistant enclosure. Schedule B addresses the necessary requirements for a wildlife resistant commercial refuse container.
There are additional and enhanced definitions, additional offences and increased fines for contraventions and a few new criteria are listed under the general requirements section. Residents are still allowed to have birdfeeders, fruit trees and composts; they just need to be responsible with them.
The revisions were made possible through a collaborative effort involving the Bylaw Enforcement Office, the Conservation Officer Service, the District of Squamish Building and Engineering Departments, the District of Squamish Technical Planning Committee, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and input was received from experts dealing with reducing human/bear conflicts. Use the newly revised bylaw as an educational tool and as a guide to what it takes to live safely within bear country. You can view the revised bylaw at: www.squamish.ca on the Bear Aware/Smart pages.