On April 17, 2024

Bear ambassador program aims to foster coexistence with bears

Vermont Coverts: Woodlands for Wildlife, a leading conservation organization that works to educate landowners and others about sound forest management and wildlife stewardship, announced the launch of its new bear ambassador program. Sixteen “Coverts cooperators” completed the program earlier this month.

This innovative initiative is designed to equip Coverts cooperators with the knowledge and tools necessary to address human-bear conflicts and promote strategies for coexistence in their communities.

Partnering with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept., Coverts Bear Ambassadors course is tailored to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of bear biology, behavior, and strategies for mitigating conflicts. Through a combination of interactive sessions and expert-led discussions, participants gained valuable insights into bear ecology, habitat management, and community engagement.

Courtesy Vermont Coverts
The first cohort of Bear Ambassadors hold up a poster that shares tips for how to “Help Keep Bears Wild.” The new program aims to protect bears and people.

Seeing a black bear in its natural surroundings is exciting. But when bears end up in human territory like our yards, problems can occur.

“Vermont Coverts recognizes the importance of community outreach promoting coexistence between humans and bears. If neighbors share about taking in bird feeders, securing garbage, and taking other bear aware measures, we can help reduce nuisance bear issues,” noted Lisa Sausville, executive director of Vermont Coverts.

The curriculum of the bear ambassador program emphasized practical strategies for reducing human-bear conflicts while promoting safe and sustainable coexistence. Participants learned how to effectively communicate within their communities about implementing proactive measures to mitigate conflicts.

“With the Bear Ambassador Program, we aim to empower Coverts peer leaders to become informed advocates to reduce human bear conflicts,” added Sausville.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife bear biologist Jackie Comeau was excited about the opportunity to train cooperators in community outreach. To learn more about living with bears, visit: vtfishandwildlife.com or vermontcoverts.org.

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