By Claire Piech
If Elena Mensch has her way, bear attractants throughout the Whistler area will be significantly reduced over the next year.
In fact, Mensch is responsible for the upcoming Whistler Bear Aware Forum to be held Wednesday, June 27 at the Spruce Grove Fieldhouse starting at 7 p.m.
The two-hour event will address the issue of living in bear country and how Whistler can develop a safe environment where people and bears coexist in harmony.
“Basically I hope this will give both residents and businesses a chance to come out and say what needs to be said about how we can work together as a community,” said Mensch.
“Living with bears will always be an issue in Whistler and is something that we need to address as we continue to grow,” she said.
The evening will begin with a fun, interactive game show — with members chosen from the audience to participate.
Presentations will then be made by Sylvia Dolson, executive director of the Get Bear Smart Society (GBS), Heather Beresford, environmental stewardship manager of the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Bear Aversion Research Team and the Conservation Office.
“I really want to focus on bear break-ins during the event,” said Mensch.
“Eight of the nine bears that were put down last year were because of human-bear conflicts. And two of the three that were put down this year were because of human-bear conflicts. Bears shouldn’t be the victims (of) not properly reducing attractants,” she added.
The forum will be led by a professional facilitator from Focus Forward Coaching and Consulting and will include prizes from local businesses, such as gift certificates for restaurants.
Mensch also plans to unveil the Bear Aware Challenge during the forum. The challenge, which will run until the end of December, will encourage residents and local businesses to become more bear smart with their property by reducing attractants.
RMOW and GBS are sponsoring the event.
For more information or to volunteer for the Bear Aware Challenge, contact Mensch at 604-935-8375 or firstname.lastname@example.org