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Bear Smart hosted community training course

Michael Short of the long running program “Lets Go Outdoors Alberta” interviews Christy Pool, President of Crowsnest Pass Bear Smart at the recent community Bear Awareness course. Photo credit Andy Vanderplas.

Nicholas L. M. Allen

Jun 7, 2023

“In our experience, 98 per cent of interactions between humans and bears are caused by humans making bad choices or having bad practices.”

The Crowsnest Pass Bear Smart Association hosted a community training course at the Crowsnest Pass Ball Diamonds in Hillcrest on June 4.

Christy Pool, President of Crowsnest Pass Bear Smart, explained what happened at the recent community course put on by John Clarke and the Crowsnest Pass Bear Smart Association with 42 people in attendance.

Pool said they started with an explanation of the species. Mainly the differences between grizzly bears and black bears including identification, tracks and any other ways to help people identify what they are dealing with.

“From there, we discuss encounters and scenarios of when you run into a bear and what you should and shouldn’t do. How to use your bear spray and when to use it and then the proper techniques to make sure that you get the best results using your spray,” said Pool.

She said the event is popular and there are people who are quite excited because of how interactive the course is. 

“They don’t just sit there and listen to people blab on, they actually take part in everything,” said Pool, “They get to do everything that you might go through with a bear.”

When people are educated about bears and how to interact with them safely, Pool claims it takes away their fear and hopefully reduces human interaction.

“In our experience, 98 per cent of interactions between humans and bears are caused by humans making bad choices or having bad practices,” said Pool.

These bad habits may include feeding bears or treating them like zoo animals rather than the wild animals they are. When people approach a bear without the proper information or education, Pool said it creates a scenario in which the bear always ends up paying the price.

“We’ve had people come back to us after having encounters and telling us that we’ve made a huge difference. They were able to make good choices so that it didn’t end up with anyone getting hurt, them or the bear,” said Pool, “I would say that what we’re putting out there is certainly giving people the backgrou+nd that they need to be safe.”

For anyone unable to attend, she gave advice on how to properly deal with bears in the wild. Pool said to give the bear its space and be respectful of their backyard and the fact they have nowhere else to go.

“It’s really all about respecting what they are and where they live and giving them that ability to function without creating a situation,” said Pool.

She added bears are very habitual and easily taught. Aside from direct feeding, issues can include indirect contact with bears such as garbage being left out. 

“It’s never a good thing to treat them as backyard pets,” said Pool.

A lot of people went home with more of a knowledge base according to Pool. Another community training session is being planned for early fall.  Visit for more information or find the Crowsnest Pass Bear Smart Association on Facebook.

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