Since 1956, Smokey Bear’s Canadian home has been with the CFA in co-operation with provincial forestry agencies, government and industry.
However the story of Smokey Bear goes back to 1942 when the American War Advertising Council established a national forest fire prevention campaign. Wildfires were interfering with the war effort by needlessly wasting valuable forest and human resources.
In 1945 after successfully spreading the fire prevention message using the Bambi character of Walt Disney fame, the Forest Service developed it own unique animated character – a brown bear in official costume. He was named ‘Smokey’.
Smokey Bear became a very popular symbol when efforts to prevent careless wildfires expanded after the war. The 1947 campaign introduced the still-familiar slogan ‘Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires’.
In 1950, fire fighters in New Mexico found a young bear cub clinging to life. This little orphaned bear, nursed back to health and nicknamed Smokey, soon became a national celebrity.
Smokey Bear has continued to increase in popularity and is now known throughout North America. His forest wildfire prevention message is as important today as it has ever been.
CFA’s campaign against wildfires is aimed at reducing damage caused by human carelessness. Today, forest agencies promote the regenerative role of natural fire in forest ecosystems, and the use of controlled fires as a forest management tool.
Commercial use of the character and name of Smokey Bear is protected by United States Federal law. In Canada the official licensee is the Canadian Forestry Association. Items produced for commercial purposes that contain or use the Smokey Bear image, name, or message without benefit of a license violate Public Law 82-359, as amended by P.L. 92-318. Suspected violations are reported directly to the Director, F & AM, Washington Office, who shall take action necessary up to and including civil and criminal court actions to stop the violator.