Blackcomb establishing bear habitat By Lottie Wengelin A black bear research analyst began a survey for Blackcomb last month with the aim of enhancing the population of wild animals on the mountain. "We want to identify the wildlife corridors to minimize the impact of a recreational area," explains Arthur deJong, mountain operations manager. That way, hiking trails and ski runs can be designed in an ecologically friendly way. For example, deJong points out deer like clover. Other animals nibble at the second growth. By establishing more glade skiing runs the sunlight gets into the undergrowth and creates more food for animals. The mountain is a natural habitat for a number of species of animals and Blackcomb wants that to continue. "We want to ensure bears are not here because of garbage," deJong says. That requires a comprehensive education process, for both staff and guests. It involves getting information to the public about why animals should not be fed, why bears are on the mountain, and what to do if confronted by a bear. "It is a safety issue. People and wildlife need to successfully co-exist," deJong says. He recognizes that several natural areas for bears are disappearing in Whistler and sees an opportunity for the mountain to provide a satisfactory habitat. "The goal is to have Blackcomb Mountain as a conservation area. I envision the mountain like a park," deJong concludes.