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Bear Smart Community Designation

In 2021, after several years of hard work and dedication, the City of Castlegar officially became a Bear Smart community.

The Bear Smart Community Program is a voluntary, preventative conservation measure that encourages communities, businesses, and individuals to work together to reduce conflicts with bears. Designed by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in partnership with the Union of BC Municipalities, the program is based on six criteria, such as developing a bear-human conflict plan and a continuing education program, which communities must meet to achieve Bear Smart status.

In Castlegar, where residential areas are clustered along the shores of the Columbia River, a progressive solid waste management plan was developed to make garbage inaccessible to wildlife. This included implementing bear-resistant residential garbage cans, communal dumpsters in high-conflict areas, and strict regulations around the storage of garbage and collection-day practices.

In addition, the city developed a Bear Hazard Assessment to identify current and potential risks, followed by a Human-Bear Conflict Management Plan to address the identified hazards and land-use conflicts. Since 1999, the city has supported WildSafeBC outreach and education initiatives, such as annual school presentations, farmers market booths and neighbourhood garbage patrols. The program also uses signboards whenever bears are active.

A collaborative Bear Attractant Response Strategy was also created, in partnership with WildSafeBC and the city’s bylaw office, to ensure consistent communication and response to bear attractant issues and complaints.

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