Environmental award presented to volunteers

Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee hounoured for year-long efforts to inform the public

The Don Bush Environmental Award has been presented to Lydia Koot and the volunteers of the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee.

The Don Bush Environmental Stewardship Award has been presented to the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee for its  tremendous accomplishments in 2012.

The Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee was formed in July 2011 by local resident, Lydia Koot, in partnership with Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning.

The committee was established in response to a growing number of black bear encounters in the Hope area.

Between 2009 and 2011 the number of bear reports to the Conservation Office Service grew from 50 to over 300 each year.

The committee’s goal is to promote and support the co-existence of black bears and Hope residents through community involvement, education and cooperation.

The organization works along with the District of Hope, Conservation Officer Service, RCMP, First Class Waste, bear safety groups from other communities, local community organizations, local businesses and volunteers.

Koot’s passion to bring about change and prevent the need to destroy bears was contagious.

Volunteers came onboard, the numbers growing to this day to over 30 citizens.

Their yellow shirts identify them as they knock on doors handing out educational materials to the public, make presentations to various groups and pick the fruit off the many trees around town that attract bears into our backyards.

The volunteers have contributed over 1,500 hours during 2012.

Adding to the group’s success is the all the hard work by the District of Hope to install bear signage and bear proof garbage bins around town, the improvements made by First Class Waste to upgrade commercial garbage bins to be bear proof and the collaboration between the RCMP, the Black Bear Committee and the Conservation Office Service.

In the past year, the number of phone calls to the Conservation Office Service has declined from over 300 to only 89 in 2012.

The number of bears needing to be destroyed lowered from six in 2011 to only two this year and a drop in the relocation of bears from two to zero.