Today Bear Aware announced it would begin the immediate transition from Bear Aware to Adopt a Bear.

The new Adopt a Bear coordinator, Cathy Murphy explained, “For too long we have been in conflict with the grizzlies in the valley. We need to accept them and welcome them into our homes. And they welcome us into their lands. There needs to be more understanding on both sides. Consider the Rotary exchange program as a model. It’s a cultural exchange.”

The program is simple. As the bears come out of hibernation, wildlife biologists will keep an eye out for sows with young cubs. On finding a sow and cubs, they will be trapped and the cubs taken from the sow to be placed in a proper home environment in the Elk Valley.

While the cubs are growing up they will still be allowed in the alpine and in the woods. While they are in town, they will be leashed walking around. The off-leash dog park will have the fence height extended, so the cubs can freely play off-leash in the park.

Cathy continues, “In five, maybe seven years, with the cubs released back into the wild, we should see a dramatic reduction in bear/human conflict. They will be our friends. We can and will freely live together.”

The cubs, after growing up with humans, will no longer be a threat. They will become more like us and understand our ways. Become our friends. In four or five years, as the cubs mature, they will be released into the wild again. But they will be humanized and friendly.

While initially, the program will move bears into our homes, Cathy explained, “It is hoped once bears graduate from the program and have lived in the wild for a few years again, we will be able to place young children, maybe seven or eight years old, with the bears for the summers. This exchange should further the understanding between us and the bears even more.”

Families wishing to join the program must undergo a strict home inspection and adoption training handled by both the local BC social service office and the Adopt a Bear staff.

For more information, please call 1-800-Be-a-Bear or 1-800-232-2327

By Keith Liggett

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