New Bear Wise program will make communities safer

Archived Release

New Bear Wise program will make communities safer

$900,000 for community-based bear programs NORTH BAY, ON, June 14 - A new Bear Wise funding program to support community-based bear prevention, awareness and public education programs will increase public safety in bear country, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced today. "We will work with communities to identify trouble spots for conflicts between humans and bears and implement prevention measures to reduce those conflicts," said Ramsay. "We are providing $900,000 to support initiatives that will help make communities in bear country safer, such as bear-resistant garbage containers or landfill fencing." Communities that undergo an approved bear hazard assessment and develop an action plan are eligible to receive funds through the Bear Wise program. The bear hazard assessment involves the community and the local Ministry of Natural Resources office working together to identify areas at high risk for human-bear conflicts and then developing a plan to prevent problems. Interested communities must apply by July 16, 2004, for funding for this year. "I'm very pleased the ministry is providing funding for community-based prevention efforts," said North Bay Mayor Victor Fedeli, as he accepted a funding application from the minister. "This will help communities like ours manage, or better yet, prevent bear problems, and that's good for all of us living here." The minister also announced that the North Bay Police Service is about to become the second force to sign an agreement with the ministry under the Bear Wise program. North Bay police will respond to emergency bear calls and will call the Ministry of Natural Resources for assistance if necessary. The ministry will respond to non-emergency bear calls. The Bear Wise program is based on four cornerstones - reporting, response, prevention, and education and awareness. People who have bear problems or want more information on bears, can call the Bear Wise phone line 1-866-514-2327 toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week during bear season. They can also visit the bear website at www.bears.mnr.gov.on.ca for education and awareness information. For emergency bear situations, the public is asked to call 911 or local police. Disponible en fran├žais www.bears.mnr.gov.on.ca -----------------------For further information: Ginette Albert, Minister's Office, (416) 314-2212, (647) 227-5747 (Cell); Jolanta Kowalski, Ministry of Natural Resources, (416) 314-2106