Resident black bear researcher Michael Allen said the announcement of a new Bear Response Officer for Whistler is a great step, for both the residents and the bears in the resort.
"It's good to have somebody in the interface to play the referee, just so there's other options instead of somebody just going and shooting it," said Allen. "That's been the goal all along to try and intercept that abrupt decision to kill the bear and to have more options to deal with it."
The Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection announced this week that there will be a new bear conservation officer in Whistler dedicated to working on a bear aversion program.
The officer, who has yet to be named, will have a number of responsibilities, including assessing and responding to bear-human conflicts and providing guidance on methods to reduce the risk of conflict.
WLAP Minister Bill Barisoff explained why the province partnered with the municipality to create this position.
"The province is committed to reducing the number of conflicts we see with bears and humans and this new CO will allow us to take extra measures to deal with the problem in an effective and humane manner," said Barisoff.
He also announced a $60,000 grant for the municipality to work on a three-year black bear research and monitoring program, designed to examine a number of "aversive conditioning methods," which would entice bears away from the community using non-lethal techniques. The money will be used by the Bear Working Group, which is made up of various stakeholders including the municipality, the RCMP, the province and Whistler-Blackcomb.
The government will invest a further $7,500 to fund a bear hazard assessment, and develop a bear-management plan to support Squamish becoming a "Bear Smart" community. Whistler is the first Bear Smart community in B.C.