Public judging is now under way for the top six entries in the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) “Bear Aware” Youth Film Contest.

High school filmmakers from Grass Valley to Lodi submitted 40 short films to the contest. The top six films, selected by a panel of judges, have been posted in random order on DFG’s website for the public to view and vote for their favorite. Of the six final films 4 were produced by students from Woodcreek High School in Roseville, one by students from Lodi High School and one by students from Colfax High School. Judging will close at 5 p.m. on March 10.

Members of the public are invited to view the films at www.dfg.ca.gov/BearFilmContest/TopFilms.html and e-mail the number of their favorite entry to bearfilmcontest@dfg.ca.gov. Only one vote per e-mail address will be counted. The winner of the Public Choice Award will receive a $100 gift card to REI.

The students created the public service announcements to help DFG with its “Bear Aware” public outreach efforts. The “Bear Aware” campaign is aimed at educating residents and visitors of the Lake Tahoe Basin about the importance of securing food and trash to eliminate attractants for black bears.

httpv://youtu.be/DJW6pIZ5Myg

The Public Choice Award is in addition to the judging panel’s selections, which include a first place prize of $500, a second place prize of $300, a third place prize of $200 and $100 for the three Honorable Mentions. Prize money was donated by California Houndsmen for Conservation. (Californiahoundsmen.com)

The six Judge’s Choice awards and the Public Choice award will be announced the week of March 13.

Students were provided footage of black bears to include in their films. In addition, they were given a list of “Keep Me Wild” messages, from which they were required to use three. These key messages included tips for Lake Tahoe homeowners on how to make their homes an unwelcome place for bears and advice to visitors to always keep a clean campsite and secure food and trash. More information on Keep Me Wild can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.

Because this year’s inaugural contest was focused on bears in the Lake Tahoe area, the contest was limited to high school students in Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties. DFG recognizes that the Keep Me Wild messages are applicable to wildlife elsewhere in the state, and is considering expanding the geographic range of the contest in the future.

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