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Naramata is Bear Smart

Naramata was showered with praise on Monday for becoming BC's newest Bear Smart Community.

It is now the sixth in the province to earn this status and the first in the Okanagan.

"This is to honour the community for working toward Bear Smart status and reducing the annual destruction of seven bears to two bears in four years, directly as a result of garbage and attractant managament," said Zoe Kirk, RDOS WildSafe BC coordinator, at the special celebration at the Naramata Heritage Inn.

Over the past five years in BC, an average of 658 black bears have been destroyed each year, while 91 have been relocated due to conflicts with people.

So the Bear Smart Community Program encourages local governments, businesses and individuals to work together to address the root-causes of human-bear conflict, reducing the risks to human safety and private property, as well as the number of bears that have to be destroyed each year.

In Naramata, information on conflict prevention has been shared at school presentations, the community market and through door to door awareness.

The community also implemented a comprehensive bear proof municipal waste management system and completed all the additional actions required to obtain the status.

Garbage patrols are conducted regularly and residents are held accountable for their actions. Those who do not comply with the community's curb-side bylaw, (garbage bins can only be placed for pickup after 5 a.,m on collection day), receive letters providing important information so all residents become part of the solution, not the problem.

On Monday, dignitaries including MP Dan Albas, MLA Dan Ashton and RDOS Chair Mark Pendergraft praised Naramata residents for their efforts. Schoolchildren who have played a special role, were also given recognition.

"The hard work and dedication by all members of the community has made a real impact," said Ashton. "Not only to the safety of the residents but to the bears. You have set a great example for all communities to follow."

Chief Conservation Officer Doug Forsdick presented the Bear Smart Plaque to RDOS Naramata director Karla Kozakevich.

Naramata joins the city of Kamloops, the district of Squamish, the village of Lions Bay, the resort municipality of Whistler and the city of Port Alberni as Bear Smart communities.

More than 20 other communities in the province are pursuing the status.

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