No hibernation for bear task team Garbage bins, landfill proofing, management plan coming together By Chris Woodall About the only "stakeholders" not interviewed for input into Whistler's Black Bear Task Team management plan are the bears themselves, but they are snuggled in their winter homes by now. Work is proceeding apace, however, with bear-proof bins selected and preliminary plans to bear-proof Function Junction, the landfill site and the trash compactor location at the entrance to Function. Information on how 22 other mountain communities handle neighbourhood bears is being collected to help define bear behaviour, especially their devious garbage hunting ways. "Grizzlies are better diggers than our black bears," says task team co-chair Sylvia Dolson. That information goes a long way to help design the foundation of the fencing for the landfill, for example. "One of the major problems with the landfill is bears digging under the fence," Dolson says. To that end, electrical fencing surrounding the landfill will probably have a cement foundation wall extending deep enough to frustrate the engineering adventures of hungry bears. Plans also call for the landfill site to have an area of scrub vegetation that brushes against the landfill — and is something of a "campground" for squatting bears — cleared. The total fenced area will include the construction waste section, the idea being to keep bears out of as much of the landfill site as possible. Another problem at the landfill site is bears being able to saunter onto the site during working hours, even if a fence were up, so an automatic gate system is being contemplated that would open and shut only to allow vehicles, Dolson says. As for the bear-proof bins, two versions of sidewalk containers have been selected, one of which has a recyclable can component, Dolson says. "We wouldn't need them (the more expensive recyclable can bins) at every location, but next to food outlets," Dolson says. The municipality has budgeted $8,500 to buy the initial order of bins, which should net about nine of them. Larger containers for apartment or commercial use have not been decided on, Dolson says, because what's available isn't suitable for Whistler's needs. "Owen Carney, of Carney's Waste Systems, is working on a bin with a design that will fit what we need," Dolson says. Function Junction will be among the first areas to get bear-proof attention. "It's important that adjacent areas to the landfill be bear-proofed, too," or bears will go next door if the landfill is closed to them, Dolson says. The garbage compactor and related recycling containers at Function Junction will be enclosed on a paved site much as the compactor site north of Nester's Market was renovated recently, Dolson says. "Everything's finally coming together," Dolson says of the team's work. "Right now we are at phase one, a research phase," she says. "Phase two is the decision-making phase where we decided on which containers to buy, on signage, educational programs, how the landfill will be fenced, and do the bylaws to set policy." The final phase will be the actual preparation of the management plan, due in April, 1998.