WNCA welcomes a new Task Force that provides educational opportunities and resources to promote a peaceful coexistence between humans and bears.

The Bear Education and Resources (B.E.A.R.) Task Force is initially working in the Highlands/Cashiers area, but its members wants to expand its reach region-wide.

Based on the principles and guidelines provided by the Get Bear Smart Society (www.getbearsmart.com), B.E.A.R. is a collaborative effort of non-profit groups and community members that seeks to engage local, county and state agencies and other organizations in sharing information about managing human/bear conflicts and learning how to live in harmony with bears.

One of the B.E.A.R. Task Force’s projects is to have Highlands certified as a “Bear Smart Community.”

Following a “Bear Hazard Assessment”, the group will work with local officials to prepare a community action plan to resolve identified problems.

The Task Force also provides a variety of informational programs, events and materials for the general public, schools, and community groups. More than a dozen such programs have already been given in the past year, and the group plans to hold its second Mountain Black Bear Festival in 2012.

For more information on B.E.A.R. or to request a program, email bearwnc@gmail.com.

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