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Lions Bay Bear Smart Q&A - September 28, 2023



What is Lions Bay Bear Smart?

Between 1999 and 2001 a number of bears were destroyed in Lions Bay. Concerned residents joined forces to reduce the number of bear deaths and since then the Village has been very proactive with education and bear management. In 2007, a Bear Smart Committee was formed, supported by a resolution of Council. The Ministry of Environment awarded "Bear Smart Community" status to Lions Bay in 2011 (the 3rd community in BC to achieve this designation).


For several years before 2021 there were fewer bear sightings in the Village, but climate change and loss of habitat and food sources has seen an increase in bears moving through communities province-wide. This, combined with an influx of new residents during the pandemic who were not accustomed to living alongside bears, led to Council supporting the revival of the Bear Smart initiative in 2021.


There are currently six resident volunteers and two councillors on the committee. Some have been involved with bear programs for many years. Other provide skills such as website/tech and event management. We also work and connect with experts and conservation organisations who have access to further information on an ongoing basis.


What does it mean to be a Bear Smart community?

The designation carries several commitments, including:

  • Educating residents, including kids, about Bear Smart practices and bear safety

  • Convening a Bear Smart committee to coordinate the Bear Smart program

  • Enacting and enforcing attractant bylaws

  • All public bins must be bear-proof

  • Post signs about bear activity

All endeavours contribute to maintaining Bear Smart status, keeping bears and our community safe.


How is Lions Bay Bear Smart funded?

Bear Smart grants combined with Village contributions helped fund a Bear Hazard Assessment in 2005 and the Human/Bear Conflict Management Plan in 2010. However, this funding ceased years ago and the team now relies entirely on unpaid volunteers. These volunteers contribute their time and skills to provide services such as communications, graphic and website design, tracking and analyzing bear sightings as well as attending village events. Most costs, such as domain registration and printing for events, have been paid for by volunteers out of their own pockets. Like other Village volunteer groups, we receive some support from the municipality such as the use of community spaces. Printing services were provided through the office for a brochure in Fall of 2021 and this week’s maildrop. A nominal budget in 2022/23 paid for a Wildlife Educator to attend four community events to teach residents about bears. She was also paid by the Village to accompany bylaw officers during attractant audits in 2022 and 2023.

Why does Bear Smart ask for and monitor bear sightings and what do other Bear Smart communities do?

The bear tracking tool was launched in September 2021 inspired by the North Shore Black Bear Society’s model for residents of North and West Vancouver. Since 2021 we’ve received 418 reports which include descriptions of bears, many with photos and/or videos, often from security/doorbell cameras. Although bears come and go, reports indicate that there were 8 bears moving through the Village last year and 6 this year. Knowing what bears are doing and where they’re seen is key in staying ahead of problems. For example, this data informed priority time slots for garbage collection which have proven to be the most successful way to prevent bears accessing food waste and garbage curbside. Bear sightings are confidential and are not shared. Other Bear Smart communities such as Coquitlam and Kamloops also track bear sightings, invite residents to report attractants “to the city (bylaw)” and aggressive bears to the COS.


What is an attractant audit and is Lions Bay unique in this approach?

Attractant audits are a bylaw tool used to enforce attractant bylaws. They are performed by Bylaw Officers and are not unique to Lions Bay. In Lions Bay, an experienced Wildlife Educator accompanies the officer. Neighbourhood audits, as in other municipalities, are prioritised according to where bear activity is highest or suddenly increases. The goal is to prevent bears from being tempted into bad behaviour which could, if not managed, become a public safety issue and could result in a bear being killed. It’s important to note that bylaws and enforcement are part of the Bear Smart commitment. If the municipality does not meet this commitment, Lions Bay may lose its designation which has been a great source of pride for over a decade.


Does Lions Bay Bear Smart work with the COS?

Yes. The chair of the committee liaises with the CO for our area as necessary and to provide updates.


Does the COS relocate bears?

According to the COS, they do not have the resources to relocate bears which they do not regard as an ideal solution. Relocated bears face many obstacles in establishing themselves, for example, finding food, water, shelter and dealing with more dominant bears. According to the COS statistics for 2022, 588 black bears were destroyed and only 11 were relocated.


Who do I contact if I see a bear?


Bear sightings: report to Lions Bay Bear Smart. Pictures and videos are useful to identify bears (most we receive come from security and doorbell cameras).


Attractants: report to bylaw@lionsbay.ca (eg waste not stored properly, fruit trees being visited by wildlife, compost heaps, etc).


Aggressive bears: report to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.


Information about Lions Bay Bear Smart is always available on our website and on the Village of Lions Bay website.


Questions can be addressed directly to the committee at lionsbaybearsmart@gmail.com.


Photo below courtesy of LB Resident Nancy Seow


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