Mountain View BearSmart Society

Mountain View residents concerned about grizzly bear activity in the area adopted a BearSmart program to help reduce human-bear encounters.

Mountain View BearSmart Society

The Mountain View BearSmart Society was started in 2008 and became an incorporated society in July 2009.

Becoming a BearSmart community

In the fall of 2007, a hunter was killed by a grizzly bear in the forest reserve west of Sundre.

In the fall of 2008, a bow hunter was killed by a grizzly bear in Mountain View County east of Sundre. County residents were particularly concerned by the 2008 death because it was in an agricultural area close to the intersection of Highway 22 and the Bergen Road – county residents did not expect a grizzly bear to be so far east of the foothills and mountains.

In response to these events, community members established committees to produce a bear hazard risk assessment, to develop strategies on bear safety education, and to develop systems to notify county residents of bear sightings.

Community participation

Originally, the 30+ members came from the concerned residents who attended the Government of Alberta info/media session held shortly after the death of the hunter in 2008.

Members also included Mountain View County councillors and employees and Sustainable Resource Development employees involved in BearSmart initiatives.

Some Successes

  • Produced the Mountain View County Preliminary Bear Hazard Assessment in 2009 and have updated it in both 2010 and 2011 with new enforcement data from the Government of Alberta.
  • Hold an annual Bear Awareness Week in April with bear awareness and safety presentations to students in the local schools and a Family Fun Day with crafts for kids and displays and speakers on bear biology and safety.
  • Developed a website to post bear, cougar and other wildlife sightings from Fish & Wildlife and the public. The report is emailed out weekly.
  • Erected signs around the county informing residents and travellers that they are in bear country.
  • Conduct bear and cougar awareness and safety presentations to any interested residents or organizations.
  • Developed a display booth for the society with skulls, hides, info pamphlets etc and attend local trade fairs.
  • Promote the use of bear-proof garbage containers by county residents.

Some challenges

  • The biggest challenge is keeping members/volunteers interested and participating – not only the county residents but also the councillors and employees from Mountain View County. The 30+ active members have dwindled to 8. It is a constant struggle to figure out ways to attract new members.
  • The second challenge involves acquiring sufficient funds, donations and grants to continue operating.

Future BearSmart activities

  • Work with the Alberta government to produce a human-bear conflict management plan for Mountain View County.
  • Work with Mountain View County to investigate and develop livestock carcass composting systems.
  • Work with Mountain View County to modify their land use regulations to include BearSmart guidelines in subdivisions and developments.