The Executive Director of the Whistler Get Bear Smart Society wants to see new measures in place ahead of the 2017 Ironman event in Whistler.

Sylvia Dolson says races in general are becoming a significant problem in bear country; “The reason being that the distance at which the bear is encountered is usually too close and can therefore invoke a defensive response. Races are even more problematic because the runners need to stay on course and keep running. The bear is likely to interpret this as an offensive action.” She says extra precautions need to be taken by event organizers and park management.

Dolson cites numerous incidents from the last several years where bears have been affected by the large race, including last year where a bear family was tranquilized and moved by the Conservation Officer Service, during which one cub died in the process of relocation. Another bear was killed on Highway 99 during the Ironman weekend.

The measures suggested include a pre-race sweep of the area by bear dogs and their handlers, a bear hazard assessment several weeks before the race, a bear shepherding team on site on race day, an opportunity to address race participants prior to the start of the race, bear safety information provided to participants and standardized special events guidelines for all events held in Whistler. Standardized guidelines should include waste management and bear smart principles – something that has already been drafted by the Whistler Bear Advisory Committee but not yet adopted by the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) according to Dolson.

The RMOW and Tourism Whistler are hosting a community information session for this year’s Ironman event on May 9th from 4-5 PM at the Maury Young Arts Centre.


Filed under: Bear, Get Bear Smart Society, Ironman, Race, RMOW, Whistler, Wildlife