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SC Bear Alliance joins new provincial advocacy group

Launched on May 7, the BC Bear Alliance comprises more than 24 advocacy groups.
A black bear walks through a property in Halfmoon Bay in May 2019.

The Sunshine Coast Bear Alliance (SCBA) has joined the newly-minted BC Bear Alliance.

Launched on May 7, the BC Bear Alliance comprises more than 24 advocacy groups, including the SCBA, to advocate for improved bear management in the province.

SCBA alliance spokesperson Diane Henley said joining the BC Bear Alliance “will have a significant impact on the SCBA and our coastal community.”

“It will allow us to be a part of the bigger provincewide dialogue with our provincial government and ministries in making necessary and so much needed changes in how we deal with human-bear conflicts,” said Henley.

“Raising bear awareness education, strengthening enforcement laws on such a level means more people will be able to understand that British Columbia is a bear country and it's everyone's responsibility to know how to coexist with bears peacefully,” she said.

“For our community that will also mean that not only our residents but visitors who come to the Sunshine Coast will be better informed on how to behave in our wilderness. The result is less bears killed and more harmonious bear-human coexistence.”

The BC Bear Alliance is led by a five-member steering committee and among its initial priorities is to lobby for independent oversight over the Conservation Officer Service (COS) and for training improvements for COS and other agencies in non-lethal conflict response.

The group wants “more rigorous enforcement of municipal bylaws and the BC Wildlife Act,” including higher fines and increased enforcement, and they will be advocating for “centralized and clear leadership” between the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRORD) and Ministry of Environment (MOE), since while the COS operates under the MOE, it follows laws and guidelines that fall under FLNORD.

Membership to the BC Bear Alliance is by request or application, with approval coming from the steering committee.

Henley said the SCBA’s own objectives won’t change as a result of this membership. “Our work educating Coast residents and working with the municipalities and other relevant parties will continue,” she said.