British Columbia's Bear Smart Community Program


Every year hundreds, and in some years well over a thousand, bears are destroyed as a result of conflicts between people and bears. In rare instances, people are also injured or even killed as a result of these conflicts. Most of these problems begin when people allow bears to access non-natural food sources such as garbage.

The Bear Smart Community program has been designed by the Ministry of Environment in partnership with the British Columbia Conservation Foundation and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. It is a voluntary, preventative conservation measure that encourages communities, businesses and individuals to work together. The goal is to address the root causes of bear/human conflicts, thereby reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.

This program is based on a series of criteria that communities must achieve in order to be recognized as being "Bear Smart". The responsibility to manage bear/human conflicts rests with everyone; Bear Smart will require participation from the provincial government, municipal governments, and local citizens to be successful.


Criteria for Bear Smart Communities

  1. Prepare a bear hazard assessment of the community and surrounding area.
  2. Prepare a bear/human conflict management plan that is designed to address the bear hazards and land-use conflicts identified in the previous step.
  3. Revise planning and decision-making documents to be consistent with the bear/human conflict management plan.
  4. Implement a continuing education program, directed at all sectors of the community.
  5. Develop and maintain a bear-proof municipal solid waste management system.
  6. Implement "Bear Smart" bylaws prohibiting the provision of food to bears as a result of intent, neglect, or irresponsible management of attractants.

Resources and Publications

A brochure (PDF 3.7MB) outlining the Bear Smart Community program, as well as a technical background report (PDF 572KB), are available. The background report is for use by communities that are interested in pursuing this initiative and provides detailed information on each of the criteria, including examples of their successful application. A new brochure Who's Who: Know Your Bears (PDF 358KB) now available highlights the differences and similarities between Black Bears and Grizzly Bears. Take the quiz and see if YOU know your bears!