Backcountry Trail Users Grizzly Bear Outreach Project
For the benefit of people and bears and with the challenges in mind, Coast to Cascades is working with a variety of stakeholders to implement consistent signage at trailheads to popular hiking and/or biking trails where people could come into contact with grizzly bears. The signage is intended to be appropriate for both bear species by focusing on being trail smart while on trails, but also includes information to help with the identification of species, encourages reporting of relatively rare sightings of grizzlies and advocate for the carrying of non-lethal bear spray.
Eight trailhead sites have been identified in the Whistler Landscape Unit or nearby areas heavily used by Whistler residents and visitors for hiking, biking or other outdoor activities. This request forms part of a larger project whereby we have identified over 25 sites for signage installation throughout the Sea-to-Sky corridor.
From outreach undertaken at events and farmers markets throughout the corridor we find upon finding out more about local grizzlies the general public is often:
- Unaware that local grizzly populations numbers are so low they are recognized as threatened;
- Unaware that grizzlies are living in such close proximity to S2S communities;
- Fearful of and poorly informed on encountering grizzly bears where different practices are needed to handle encounters (which differ to those used for black bears).
AWARE is a member of the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative and as part of this work will be working with the COASTtoCASCADES team.
The Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative works to protect and recover threatened grizzly bears and safeguard their habitat in southwest British Columbia through science-based planning and community involvement. COASTtoCASCADES is made up of a coalition of local, regional and First Nation groups united by a vision of thriving human communities and healthy, connected wildlife habitat.
The long-term goal of the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative is for grizzly bear stewardship in southwest BC to be successful to the extent grizzly bears are recovered to levels whereby their ‘threatened’ population status is removed.
The short term changes that we would like to see are that:
- Backcountry user groups gain knowledge about bears in relation to their specific interest and participate in promoting positive stewardship of bears.
- Individuals gain knowledge of challenges faced by grizzlies and access resources intended to promote positive bear stewardship.
- Communities are supported to implement on the ground actions that safeguard grizzlies.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Williams