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Prince George becoming ‘bear smarter’

A city parks employee installs one of the new “bear aware” signs at the entrance the Moore’s Meadow Park this week. City of Prince George photo

This week, crews with the City of Prince George are installing new signs at parks and city-owned greenspaces known to be frequented by bears. The signs are being installed at trailheads and in active bear corridor areas and include information on how to stay safe in bear country and how to report a bear to the BC Conservation Service.

This is the city’s latest initiative in its work to help keep residents and bears safe, and is part of its effort to achieve official Bear Smart community status. The Bear Smart Community program is a voluntary program designed by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy in partnership with the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

Over the 10-year period up to 2018, an average of 35 bears were destroyed per year in Prince George and there have been an average of 890 calls per year to authorities to report bear sightings according to the BC Conservation Service. Last year, Prince George city council directed administration to continue working towards achieving Provincial Bear Smart status.

While all of Prince George should be considered “bear country” and residents should be prepared to encounter bears whenever they are in or near parks and greenspaces, certain areas have an increased likelihood of seeing or encountering wildlife including bears.

City staff have audited all of the city’s parks and greenspaces to determine which areas are most prone to bear-human conflict. In all, 79 out of Prince George’s 169 parks and greenspaces were determined to meet this criteria due to qualities such as vicinity to rivers and forested landscapes. Further information about the park audit is available on the city website.

In addition to the new signs, park staff are working to enact a number of measures to decrease the likelihood of bear-human encounters in City parks and greenspaces including:

  • Ensuring the city continues to maintain bear-resistant garbage cans at parks with higher numbers of bears.
  • Locating play areas away from heavily vegetated areas.
  • Improving lines of sight by planting bear-resistant plant species and removing or thinning vegetation near trailheads, trail switchbacks, and play areas.

The city is aiming to apply for the Provincial Bear Smart designation later this year.

For further information about bears and other wildlife in our community, please visit www.princegeorge.ca/wildlife

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