West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre used the killing of Jeanie the black bear to draw attention to the importance of the Bear Smart program this week in the legislature.
"For several weeks I have been planning to congratulate residents and community leaders in three Sea-to-Sky communities for achieving the Bear Smart designation," said McIntyre, who has viewed Jeanie feeding in the alpine.
"So you can imagine my shock and horror to see the recent headlines about the death of Whistler's most famous photogenic bear, Jeanie. This just serves to dramatically underscore the importance of programs to reduce human-bear conflicts."
To date there are only four communities in B.C. which have earned Bear Smart status: Kamloops in '09, Squamish in 2010, and last month the village of Lions Bay and resort municipality of Whistler were recognized as Bear Smart.
To get the designation communities must meet requirements such as preparing a bear-hazard assessment of the community and surroundings, preparing a bear-human conflict management plan, revising planning decision-making documents to be consistent with that plan, implementing a continuing education program, developing and maintaining a bear-proof municipal solid waste management system and implementing Bear Smart by-laws prohibiting providing food to bears.
"The goal of this voluntary program, designed by our Ministry of Environment in partnership with B.C. Conservation Foundation and UBCM, is to address the root causes of bear-human conflicts, reduce the risk to human safety and property and, importantly, reduce the number of bears that have to be destroyed," said McIntyre.
Jeanie was captured, tranquilized and shot last Friday after being deemed a risk to the public for her escalating conflict behaviour over the last few weeks. Her cub has been sent to a sanctuary and will be returned to the home range next year.
The mother bear's remains were laid in her home range on Whistler Mountain.
For more on Jeanie's death see related stories at www.piquenewsmagazine.com