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REPORTING · 12th July 2012
Walter McFarlane
The first presentation of the Regular Meeting of Council for Tuesday July 3rd concerned the Summer Student Bear Aware Program. Darcie Reid and Dana Amado got up and took turns presenting.

“Our [goal] is to educate the community on bear awareness, develop a successful program that runs for years to come, reduce conflicts between bears and humans, discuss with the community ways to create a safer living environment for everyone including the bears, speak to children about the importance bear safety and how to be more aware of the surroundings, visit our local, Kitimat river and speak with the fishermen and campers about storing their food in waste correctly and work towards setting goals for 2013,” said Reid.

So far, they have been trained and laid out their plan. The students have set up a bear aware page on the District of Kitimat website. They have also brought bear aware pamphlets door to door.

The Summer Students have visited 51 local businesses to ensure they are using bear proof garbage bins. 48 were using them. The other three were either broken or not locked.

This summer, they are visiting the summer programs, meeting with quading and hiking groups, having a bear awareness day with a barbecue to get the community involved and continuing their campaign.

They also provided our Council with some bear awareness tips.

“If you encounter a bear, remain calm, never run. Stand still and talk to the bear in a calm voice. Do not try and get closer to the bear. If the bear does not get closer to you, slowly back away from the bear speaking in monotone voice. Never scream, cry, turn your back on the bear, run, kneel down or make eye contact. Watch the bear and wait for it to leave. If the bear does not leave or get close to you, yell or wave your arms to make yourself look bigger. Throw objects, blow a whistle or an air horn. The idea is to persuade the bear to leave. If the bear is advancing, stand your ground. Do not run or climb a tree,” said Amado.

“It may stand on its hind legs to get a better look at you, drool excessively, exhale loudly and make huffing and moaning sounds while clacking its teeth, mouth and jaws together. Lower its head with its ears drawn back while facing you, charge forward or swat the ground with it’s paws (this is known as a bluff charge). Generally, the noisier the bear is, the less dangerous the bear is as long as you don’t approach the bear,” said Reid.

“Never leave your garbage out where it is easily accessible, never leave your garbage cans out the night before, use secure garbage cans and lids. Other home safety precautions you can take is use motion sensor lights, sprinklers, fences. Pick fruit right as it appears, close windows and doors, lock composters and put dirt on top to cover food, clean your Barbecue and close it after every use, never feeds household pets or birds in the summer from a feeder. Keep livestock fenced in,” said Amado.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff thanked them for the presentation and was happy to know most of the businesses were doing things correctly. He wanted to know if the ladies were working with bylaw enforcement. Reid replied they were trying to get the program out into the community first, but would look into this.

Feldhoff stated he went out in the evening and half the street had their garbage out, which is against the law in Kitimat. Mayor Joanne Monaghan reminded everyone there is a bylaw in place.

Councillor Rob Goffinet asked them to check out the garbage cans as this is easy to control and people are still unaware of the bylaw. He asked if they were going to leave lesson plans for the School District. Reid said they want to start earlier in the year so they could get into the schools.

Councillor Corrine Scott wanted to know if it was just the two of them working in the program. It was just them.

There were no further questions from Council but there was a question from the audience. One woman wanted to know if people were being made aware of the bylaws because they were not being advertised because there were a lot of new people coming into town and buying houses.

Monaghan agreed because the bylaw was about containers and what time they could be put out. Head of Leisure Services, Martin Gould said the young women were working on getting the program working and will look at the bylaw to know what to include when they go door to door.

Scott wanted to know if was possible to put ads in the newspapers in the spring to advertise the bylaws. Monaghan said she would take that as a motion later in the meeting.
Bear Awareness
Comment by Bonnie Thomson on 15th July 2012
I would like to thank Bob McLeod for all of the years he has presented bear awareness information - attending schools and public forums - I think he deserves recognition - he gave out so much information to many forums !
Thanks to the members
Comment by Kitimat Bear Aware, Facebook on 14th July 2012
I would like to say "thanks" to the members of the group, who proved that there was a great need for a "bear aware program" in Kitimat. Now that the program has started once again, lets hope that it runs successfully this time round.
People in the community now have a place to voice their bear concerns, their garbage concerns,
They can make sure that the garbage by laws are being enforced, they can ask questions that we could never answer, such as, *why was the dump closed, and *why are bears being killed.
Our Facebook administators have volunteered thier services for the past three years to help keep the community safe, when there was no Bear Aware Program. So, now that the program is here, take full advantage of it. Thanks
Been around long before FB
Comment by Daniel Carter on 14th July 2012
I have been hearing the name "Bear Aware" in Kitimat long before the facebook group with the same name started. Way to go kids. There should be more like you getting involved and making a difference.
Kitimat Bear Aware
Comment by Just a curious citizen on 13th July 2012
Should it really matter WHO had the name first? I actually did read a post on this group on F.B and to see some people get upset over a name, well, to quote one of the ladies: "very very tacky I say"

Now, I'm not wanting to cause any trouble of course; but shouldn't the point of the groups be to be "Bear Aware"? not "fight over who had the name first?" I think, as adults, we shouldn't be so petty about a name.
Be Aware, Bear Aware Did Not Start on Facebook
Comment by Walter McFarlane on 13th July 2012
Bear aware is a Provincial Program which has been around longer then the Kitimat Bear Aware Facebook page. Follow the link to a reference to the District of Kitimat looking into a Bear Aware program in 2008.

http://www.kitimatdaily.ca/cgi-bin/show_articles.cgi?ID=758&TOPIC=0

The District of Kitimat has been rather slowly working on the program since then.

Information on the Bear Aware Program for BC can be found at the following link.

http://www.bearaware.bc.ca/
Kitimat Bear Aware
Comment by Kitimat Bear Aware, Facebook on 12th July 2012
I would like to know, if anyone has done their reserch, and if they did, they should have known that the name, on the Facebook, is already being used by our group, Kitimat Bear Aware, and that we have had that page running for three years now, we have sent messages to inquire about this , but to date, no one has answered my emails. Your group has to know that we used the name, because you asked to join our group.