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Be Bear Aware

Wildsmart Communities

Throughout North America wildlife management specialists and conservation/police officers respond to thousands of calls and complaints about wildlife, especially bears, snakes and alligators. Most of these problems are a direct result of wild animals obtaining food rewards throughout a community. Unfortunately these animals are often destroyed in order to protect people and property.

By establishing a wildlife stewardship campaign the whole community can cooperatively help reduce human/wildlife conflicts. Students youth groups along with city and county agencies and neighborhood groups can partner efforts to distribute educational and public awareness materials to visitors and new residents.

Tips for a Wildsmart Community

  • Assemble a group of volunteers and prepare an assessment of wildlife hazards in your community and surrounding area. Work closely with your local wildlife management agency.
  • Prepare a wildlife/human conflict management plan that addresses the wildlife hazards and land-use conflicts identified in the previous step.
  • Contact your local representatives. Ask them to implement "wildlife smart" bylaws prohibiting the provision of food to wildlife as a result of intent, neglect or irresponsible management of attractants; and to assist in planning new housing developments so that greenbelts don't channel wildlife into highly populated areas.
  • Conduct a continuing wildlife education program directed at all sectors of the community, especially youth groups and students who can help conduct workshops and training programs among their peers.
  • Clear brush away from playgrounds, schools and other areas where children actively play.
  • Establish a community response system for notifying neighbors and authorities of wildlife in the community that may be dangerous.
  • Develop and maintain a bear-resistant municipal solid waste management system. Design trash transfer centers so they are out in the open and visible by passing traffic. Remove all grass or brush from the area. Provide strong fencing that extends below the ground surface. Keep it clean of trash blowing around. Restaurants, packing houses and sources of very highly attractive garbage should also use bear resistant dumpsters.

Community Involvement: Residents working together to help each other.


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Chuck Bartlebaugh

PO Box 7487, Missoula MT 59807

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