After a particularly unfortunate Canada Day long weekend, seven black bears have now been killed by conservation officers on the North Shore this year, which we would argue is seven bears too many.
One charged a conservation officer who was trying to scare it away from picnickers. Other bears made persistent attempts to get into homes or simply walked in through open doors. All of them, however, only became so brazen after becoming habituated to humans and their food scraps and garbage. One was found starving because her intestines were so full of garbage.
Frustratingly, it’s not that we lack policies to help us coexist with our ursine neighbours. Our municipalities and the province all have legislation in place that’s meant to stop people from luring the bears to their death row meals.
The first and best line of defence is education but at this point, it’s hard to believe anyone could claim ignorance. Everyone in the wilderburbs knows that bird feeders and unfrozen salmon bones can be almost as deadly for bears as shotgun slugs.
It’s compliance with the rules that is the problem. If nine out of 10 people on a street are following best practices, that one person who isn’t can still be a big problem.
People may think they’re doing the bears a favour by keeping quiet about human-bear conflicts in hopes conservation officers won’t show up with a trap. If they really want to be a friend to the bruins, they’d be out making sure their neighbours aren’t part of the problem. Living sidled up to a mountainside forest is a dream for many but comes with a great responsibility. Every time we lose a bear, the wilderness gets a little less wild.
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