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FACT: it is NOT 90 per cent of our indigenous species that are being banned. First of all, no plants are being "banned" whether they are native or non-native. Certain plants that bear edible fruit (that is a known "high value" bear food) are being "discouraged" from developments that require a Municipal Development Permit, not single family homes or other areas.
Secondly, the new bylaw (which went into effect this past spring) simply states that no person shall "allow fruit from a tree or bush on a parcel to accumulate on the tree, bush or ground such that it attracts or is likely to attract dangerous wildlife (bears, cougars, coyotes and wolves)." It is therefore acceptable under the bylaw for property owners to remove fruit so that it doesn't attract bears. It is not necessary to remove the plants themselves.
Thirdly, the Get Bear Smart Society (GBS) does not have the power to impose a ban on anything. We work in partnership with the other stakeholders of the Bear Working Group to find practical solutions collaboratively. GBS has been working hard with a number of businesses and stratas to voluntarily remove plants that bear edible fruits from around children's play areas, building entrance-ways and busy pedestrian paths. GBS's approach is a very reasonable one. Don't forget the goal is to provide a SAFE environment for people (and of course bears).
Mr. Williamson states that he doesn't "consider" mountain ash a bear attractant. FACT: mountain ash berries are a highly attractive bear food at this time of year.
Lastly, GBS and the Bear Working Group also take biodiversity very seriously. We do not oppose the planting of bear foods in and around the numerous green spaces in Whistler. We are only suggesting to remove (or not plant) bear-attracting species in areas of high development where none of us want conflict with bears. We advocate planting other native species in their place that do not produce bear food. As suggested in the landscapers' letter to council, the Get Bear Smart Society welcomes the opportunity to participate in a working group with other key stakeholders to advise council and RMOW staff on methods to protect plant biodiversity and maximize human safety with respect to bear conflicts.
Get Bear Smart Society
As a conservation biologist I face a number of challenges in undertaking habitat and species recovery efforts in settlement areas (it usually boils down to people problems not fish and wildlife problems). Sitka Mountain Ash are one of my favourite restoration species (often in conjunction with invasive removal as it grows well in shade or sun and is tough when it comes to prolonged hot dry periods - note this years bumper crop of berries).