Smart Habitats for Bears and Humans

Whistler Blackcomb’s Habitat Improvement Team has partnered with the Get Bear Smart Society (GBS) and the Whistler Bear Working Group in a volunteer-led program to plant mountain ash, blueberries, and huckleberries on sections of Blackcomb Mountain and other regions away from human activity.

A black bear eating huckleberries. Photo by Alan Vernon.
A black bear eating huckleberries. Photo by Alan Vernon.

The hope is that the far-flung placement of these bear-favoured food sources will enhance ursine wild habitat. Earlier this month, the Habitat Improvement Team and volunteers planted mountain ash along Little Spearhead, where bears can snack and frolic well away from people.

Sylvia Dolson, Executive Director of the Get Bear Smart Society, explains the strategy. “In Whistler, mountain ash (Sorbus sitchensis) is being planted on the ski hill away from human-use zones as a method of luring bears from the populated valley bottom and away from conflict with people during the late fall (when these berries naturally ripen) and when hyperphagia sets in. This provides bears with a sufficient natural food source and allows them to feed away from areas where they may end up in conflict with people.”

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