Whistler’s black bears are beginning to emerge from their dens after a long winter of hibernation. The conservation office and the Resort Municipality of Whistler have received several reports of sightings in the Whistler area over the last two weeks. At first, the emerging bears are groggy and are active only a few hours a day, but as they slowly awaken, they will move to the valley bottom to look for food. And the municipality is reminding all residents and guests to properly dispose of their garbage. "With the snow cover remaining in the valley, bears will look for other food sources," says Brian Barnett, municipal manager of environmental services and a member of the Black Bear Task Team. "It’s really important to dispose of your garbage correctly, in bear-proof containers." Bears who become conditioned to garbage as a food source usually have to be destroyed. Garbage should be kept inside a locked shed, garage or basement prior to disposal. Garbage shouldn’t be left in the back of a pick-up truck since truck canopies are not bear proof. Store all pet food inside and don’t feed pets outside. "If you see a bear, remain calm," advises Barnett. "A bear is often just passing through and if it finds no food supply, it will simply move on. Keep away from the bear and bring children and pets indoors, and keep pets on a leash."