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Bear Update: Decade of bear studies offers community workshops



Black Bear Researcher

The Whistler Museum and Archives Society has partnered with the Whistler Black Bear Project to offer residents and visitors of the resort a monthly Black Bear Workshop Series.

This series will be held at the Whistler Delta Village Suites, across from the Whistler Museum, on the third Tuesday of each month, from April to November. The purpose for this series is to provide public access to information collected during the last 10 years of Whistler bear research. Locals and visitors can drop by between 7 and 9 p.m. to learn about bear behaviour and biology through displays, video, and physical artifacts; view ecological maps illustrating relationships of bear habitat used in Whistler; and watch an informative slide presentation on a select topic of seasonal bear activity. Slide presentations run from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Handouts are available with notes on behaviour, biology, and ecology.

So, if you want to know if you live in a bear travel corridor, how and when that corridor is used, what kind of bear activity to expect, how to read body language of bears or how to interpret the piles of bear scat you find around your residence, come to the workshop. I encourage people to bring any clear photographs of bears from Whistler for review and input into the Whistler Bear Index that will be available for viewing.

Anyone that lives, visits, works, or recreates in bear habitat should attend to expand their knowledge and understanding of our local bear population.

Black Bear Workshop Series — 2003 Schedule

Third Tuesday (April-November), 7-9 p.m. at the Delta Village Suites

Bears and Weather (April 15)

How do changes in weather affect the annual cycle of bears? Learn how black bears adjust their seasonal activity to accommodate changes in denning, emergence, and fall feeding strategies.

Bear trails in Whistler valley (May 20)

The bear lecture everyone’s been waiting for – where, when, and why do bears travel the maze of residential greenbelt throughout Whistler Valley. Maps of valley bear corridors and habitat use.

Behaviour and abundance of blacks bears in Whistler (June 17)

How do numerous bears share concentrated, high quality habitats? The development of Whistler has created enhanced food-rich habitats where bears learn to exercise tolerance and avoidance through hierarchies while feeding and travelling. Maps of bear activity and movement patterns.

Life of a mother bear (July)

Follow the annual events through 7-10 years of 4 female Whistler black bears. Maps of seasonal activity.

Misconceptions in black bear behaviour (July 15)

Human perception and sometimes the management of black bears have been based on misconceptions. Misconceptions from habituation, conditioning, and aggressiveness to food requirements and hibernation – experience the true nature of black bears.

Biology of female black bears (Aug. 19)

Female black bears, "barometers" of the population have been the focus of intensive field studies to reveal foraging strategies, weight gain, cub production, survival, kinship relations, and relations with male bears.

Bears and berries (Sept. 16)

Huckleberries are the key food for Whistler bears during fall "hyperphagia" to fatten for successful hibernation and reproduction. For a large omnivore to feed on such small foods requires knowledge, strategy, and time. Compare the daily intake and foraging behaviour of different black bears.

Looking for bear dens (Oct. 21)

Experience one of the most fascinating aspects of bear biology – where sleeping bears spend 5-7 winter months escaping deep snow and harsh winds. Learn the characteristics of tree cavity and boulder-excavated dens.

Hibernation in black bears (Nov. 18)

A video presentation on the behaviour of black bears sleeping inside winter dens. The physiology of hibernation will be discussed.

Questions or information about black bears please call 604-902-1660 in Whistler, 604-898-2713 in Squamish or e-mail Thanks to Pique Newsmagazine for support of nine years of bear education.