The snow has disappeared from the valleys and is melting rapidly farther up the slopes of the mountains each day. The turf on Whistler’s four golf courses, still soggy and sensitive after the winter’s snow cover, is still off bounds for the golfers, but they can’t keep the bears away. They are taking advantage of this gourmet supply of fresh shoots while they wait for the foliage to mature up on the ski slopes.
Hikers, also waiting for the snow to clear on the mountaintop hikes, are biding their time in the valley. Cyclists and walkers abound on the trails surrounding the golf courses; inevitably they will encounter a bear. In fact, I saw a bear every day I walked near a golf course. My favourite was the bear I found taking a nap in a grove of trees between a fairway and the golf course perimeter trail.
Whistler is an exemplary example of how humans and bears can co-exist. Pro-active in its strategies, the community strives to educate both its citizens and visitors to the area. Signs are posted in prominent locations giving instructions on what to do should you encounter a bear. The basic rules are to give the bear at least 100 metres of space, never approach a bear, never feed a bear, don’t carry food around and put all garbage in the bear proof containers. If the bear is close to you, talk in a quiet voice and slowly back away.
Generally speaking, bear/human encounters go well with the bear going about its business and the human passing on by. If a bear does begin to frequent town looking for food and garbage or attempt to enter a home or business, unfortunately, it is bad news for the bear as it is put down.