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Jeanie's story



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She is unlike nearly all the other mother bears on the mountains.

Jeanie learned very quickly that to be successful meant to tolerate everything and to be very accepting of close human activity, said Allen.

"Right from the beginning she let trucks go by at 10 metres when she was feeding with her cubs," he said.

"The other female bears wouldn't do that so she stood out right at the beginning as not being really dominant but being really tolerant and accepting."

The result was that she dominated the berry patch as she stayed when humans were nearby and continued eating. As a result she is easily one of the most photographed bears in the world outside of a zoo.

"She would chase out big males, she controlled the patch, she gained the most weight out of any other female so right away her behaviour of being more tolerant paid off," said Allen of Jeanie in 2000.

However, while this may have been a successful strategy for her it probably led to a certain casualness about her role as a mama bear, he added.

"It is possible that as a female bear becomes more human habituated and more desensitized and too tolerant of surrounding human activity she tends to not respond as immediately. And even though those things don't intentionally hurt a cub it kind of softens her senses for when something really significant comes."

Whistler is very serious about cutting down on the number of bears destroyed and the number of conflicts. It recently enacted a new bylaw that will allow fines of $200 to $500 against people who do not appropriately dispose of garbage or other materials that might attract bears.

If people still refuse to comply with the bylaw they can be taken to court, where, if convicted, they face a fine of not less than $2,000 and up to $10,000 - or up to three months in jail. Feeding a bear at any time will land you with a $500 fine.

The Get Bear Smart Society is working tirelessly to get rid of bear attractants in the bruin no-go zone in Whistler Village and the Benchlands area.

Bear problems had been cut by half this summer compared to last year at this time, said Sylvia Dolson, the Society's executive director.

"I am feeling like we are really getting something accomplished, that we are actually making a difference now," she said.

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