Two brown 5-month old black bear cubs watch me from the crook of a cedar snag. Soft-bodied silhouettes sway to the rhythm of easterly winds. Twelve metres below, their mother edges through erect stems of huckleberry, systematically nudging white 7-mm long flowers from their stems. From 10-metres I record bear activity, elevation, berry phenology, weather, and our location using a GPS (global positioning system).
At a minimum age of eight years, ski area resident Daisy is the smallest reproducing female at 64 kg. She is nearly half the weight of larger (120 kg) and older (12 years) adult females like Susie in the Whistler Interpretive Forest. Her lean, muscular frame abruptly bounds 2-metres vertical, skidding onto a large rotten log. Nose and claws immediately work the long crevices of decay in search of black carpenter ants. Hints of hydrocarbons reveal to bears, potential sites of the protein-rich colonial hymenopterans. Cubs finally relax their grip on life by shifting and climbing around one another redirecting stored energies of strength for newly adopted arboreal activities.
Daisy is one of the first resident females to emerge with cubs-of-the-year. To date (June 1), five bear family groups have been identified in Whistler. If anyone observes bear families please call or e-mail (see below).
Completed Spring Bear Education
The Whistler Black Bear Project presented the seventh year of seasonal classroom bear awareness to Myrtle Philip Community School (MPCS) thanks to funding from Brian Barnett at the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW). The RMOW has funded the last five years (300 presentations) of bear education programs for MPCS that includes classroom bear awareness, habitat field trips (Grade 5), and bear camps for kids (RMOW Parks and Recreation).
Thanks to parents and teachers for their participation with field trips.
"Raising" the younger generation on bear information has spawned unique community interest, support, and understanding of local bears. Children provide a link to parents and teachers who all diffuse information through social pathways of the community. As we recognize our domain as an intricate part of the bears annual activities we steadily come to grips with adapting to a lifestyle of living in bear habitat.
Recreation Staff Awareness
Staff awareness presentations are on-going with golf courses and front-country eco-tourism operators. Its important to recognize that recreation operators represent a vital source of communication through bear/human corridors. Golf courses and recreation tenures of eco-tourism operators provide some of the most enhanced, habitat corridors for the area bear population. I encourage all recreation operators from campgrounds to ski areas to include bear education in their summer orientation.