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aware bears

By Amy Fendley The idea is to equip Whistler’s RCMP with bear deterrent kits. Pepper spray, rubber bullets and bear bangers. At last week’s AWARE meeting, residents, members and guest speakers voiced their opinions about the Whistler bear situation and whether deterrent will work. Sylvia Dolson, co-chair of the Black Bear Task Team and vice president of the Jennifer Jones Whistler Bear Foundation, was sent to Mammoth Lakes, California last month to take a look at the way Mammoth Lakes handles its bear situation. She took away ideas about how Whistler could be better equipped to self-sufficiently handle bear complaints. The issue is whether or not residents want to continue to rely on the Conservation Office in Squamish to help handle Whistler’s bear situation. Conservation officers currently have to drive 45 minutes to Whistler when the receive a call about a bear. By the time they get here, usually the situation is dealt with, sometimes in a lethal manner. There were 667 bear-related complaints and 84 bears destroyed in the Whistler area between 1992 and 1996. Cpl. Mike Shannon, of the Whistler RCMP attended the AWARE meeting and said the possibility of sending three or four officers to Mammoth Lakes for training could not be ruled out. But to equip the Whistler RCMP detachment would take approximately 10 kits, at a cost of $500 a piece. Shannon said during the meeting that he would look into the costs and feasibility of training officers to operate the bear deterrent kits. AWARE also recognized Carney’s Waste Systems, which has donated $100,000 for 100 commercial bear-proof containers, made of 16 gauge steel. AWARE was also excited about the Rendezvous Restaurant’s new bear den, a 10 foot carved bear in the restaurant and a footprint sand box for kids.