Beginning this Sunday, bear experts from all over the world will be meeting for the 5th International Human-Bear Conflicts Workshop at the Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg. Bear specialists from Asia, the Middle East and South America will join their colleagues from the U.S. and Canada to discuss strategies on dealing with human-bear conflicts.
Beginning in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in 1987, human-bear conflict specialists and community organizers have come together four times to share their experiences and successes. This year, the fifth workshop will take place for the first time ever in the eastern part of North America.
TWRA Black Bear Program Coordinator Dan Gibbs and several colleagues from the southeastern U.S.
attended the last HBC workshop in Montana in 2012. Mr. Gibbs said, “Attending that workshop enabled us to see that other agencies are dealing with the same issues. We were able to learn from their successes and, in some cases, their failures. We came back refreshed, rolled our sleeves up, and got to work.” Mr. Gibbs went on to say that the concept of a regional bear education program that is administered by state wildlife agencies was first discussed at that meeting in Montana. That particular program, now known as BearWise, has been implemented and is gaining traction at educating people on how to live responsibly with black bears.
According to the 5th International Human-Bear Conflicts Workshop website, the workshop’s format is designed to encourage participants to interact with professional and community human-bear conflict specialists. Attendees leave with: “A better understanding of the history, causes and current trends in human-bear conflicts; New and proven methods of reducing human-bear conflicts; Tools, techniques and tactics that work in the real world.”
The workshop concludes on Thursday, March 29.