Wildlife agencies want Jackson Hole to get Bear Smart

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While most people who have lived in Jackson Hole for a time understand how important it is to observe precautionary measures to prevent bears from gaining food rewards from residences, there are many newcomers and former seasonal residents who have decided to make this their long-term residence who are not as versed in those precautions.US Fish and Wildlife Service Grizzley Bear Recovery Coordinator Hillary Cooley says this is one problem area that needs to be addressed.

“It’s a challenge I think for all of the agencies to figure out how to reach everybody and how to make things a little more secure for bears and people. It comes back to a human safety issue. If there’s no food or attractant to stop a bear, then they won’t be hanging out in your yard.”

She says the dilemma is not unique to Jackson Hole but is being seen in the Flathead Valley of Montana as well.

One solution she says is a new program called “Bear Smart” modeled after a similar program in British Columbia that has been quite successful.

“It’s kind of a self-guided, community-driven program to identify needs like attractants, do education, and then at the end of it, if they go through all these steps, the community would be identified as a “Bear Smart” community, and they can advertise that.”

She says the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is working on getting the program launched, but it is designed to be instigated by the communities themselves so that there is buy-in from the participants making it more effective than directives provided by government agencies.

 

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