Nathan Closter and Jenna Davie

Nathan Closter and Jenna Davie

Bear Aware program teaches the bear necessities

The District of Kitimat's Bear Aware program is back for another year of bear education.

Jenna Davie and Nathan Closter are on the case when it comes to bear safety in Kitimat.

The pair are the latest in a line of summer employees for the District of Kitimat who spend the warm months building a foundation of knowledge on how to handle bears and how to prevent confrontations with the furry beasts.

To long time residents of Kitimat it may seem second nature what to do when you sight a bear, but Davie and Closter say knowing and acting can be two different things.

“Our main goal is to educate the public about bear safety, whether they’re out in the bush hiking and don’t know what to do…and attractant management, keeping your garbage locked up properly.”

Even short hikes, like Pine Creek trail, can have bears, as Davie said she discovered when she took it recently and found lots of bear ‘calling cards’.

Closter said there’s two kinds of bears, a defensive one who would rather not deal with a human, or aggressive bears, and those are the ones that it’s important to carry bear spray for.

There are other tricks to handling bear conflicts too.

“One thing I say is if you have a bell put it on your dog’s collar,” Davie said, since the bell alerts bears you’re nearby and you may forget to shake it if you just carry it. (Or attach the bell to your backpack if you have no dog.)

Unique this year over past years is that with the influx of new people to Kitimat working on projects there is a new generation of Kitimatians who actually don’t know much about bears or what to do with them and they’ve been reaching out to them too, as well as monitoring things like dumpsters at businesses.

“We don’t want to give the bears any reason to stop in town,” said Davie.

Closter adds that given Kitimat’s location, bears will always be passing through so the trick is to keep attractants at a minimum.

You can keep up with Bear Aware news at https://www.facebook.com/bear.aware.7 and at the Riverlodge for a community meeting on July 10 at 7 p.m.