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REPORTING · 20th June 2014
Walter McFarlane
Jenna Davie and Nathan Closter, the summer students from the Kitimat Bear Aware Program came before Council on Monday, June 16th to talk about their summer program.

“The Bear Aware Program was put in place to help motivate the public to be responsible with their bear attractants. The program’s goal is to reduce human bear conflicts by providing information about attractions and education to the public,” said Closter.

“The program works closely with the public, the Conservation Officer and other officials to find ways to reduce these human / bear conflicts,” said Davie.

They will be focusing on education bear safety to the new companies, working with Bob McLeod to provide hiking safety and put a caution sign on the highway to remind people there are bears in this area.

“Our main goal is to make Kitimat a safer community for everyone,” said Davie.

They will be canvassing to the houses with a pamphlet reminding them to reduce attractants. They will be visiting the Riverlodge Summer Camps and Museum Programs. They visited all of the schools and made sure the dumpsters were bear safe.

They will be reaching out to groups and organizations, working with the Conservation Officers and implementing long term solutions to reduce conflicts between humans and bears.

They recommended visiting their Facebook Page, which is used to keep people informed about where bears are in the community. They are also providing safety information and tips through the District of Kitimat Website.

“The fact is that Kitimat is located in the middle of the bears natural habitat. It’s important to remember that the bears were here first and we moved in. Bears that become highly food conditioned and habituated to humans are often destroyed because of this,” said Closter.

They want people to make bear safe choices to reduce the number of bears which have to be destroyed every year. There will be a community presentation on July 10th at 7:00 pm at Riverlodge.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know if they check up on the garbage being left out overnight. The Summer Students replied they go out with a Conservation Officer the night prior to garbage pick-up. Last year, several people received warnings. This year, they will receive fines.

Councillor Edwin Empinado agreed with the objective to talk with the new comers to Kitimat. He pointed out there were people from Asia who did not know what bears were.

Councillor Rob Goffinet wanted to know if there were a lot of bear sightings in Kitimat. He was told there were grizzly bears in Kitimat right now. Monaghan added if there were grizzly around, there would not be black bears.