Bear cub case an oppurtunity

Publisher and editor Kathy O'Reilly-Taylor sees opportunity in bear cub story

The District of Port Hardy has achieved worldwide attention for the heroic actions of Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant who put his job on the line to save twin bear cubs – promptly named Jordan and Athena by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.

The local, national and international outcry that ensued after the North Island Gazette broke the story  has been incredible.

Hopefully, this story will end up having a positive impact.

The case has certainly shed  a bright light on the Province of British Columbia’s approach to wildlife management, and cuts to the number of individuals actually being out in the field ‘conserving’ wildlife. There also seems to be a debate over a “new” policy which appears to call for the culling of all bear cubs alluded to in leaked email messages from Casavant to a superior officer.

Hopefully, because of the exposure, Conservation Officer Byrce Casavant is reinstated.

Hopefully, not-for-profit facilities like the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre and others in the province will receive the funding they need to continue their important work. It costs $40 a day to keep one cub, and the centre has seven right now. Over the course of the 18 months they housed at the centre, their care costs $21,900 per cub.

And, hopefully the District of Port Hardy and the Town of Port McNeill re-examine their policies of picking up garbage every second week instead of weekly.

Robin Campbell, from the centre says that bears can pick up a smell from miles away which is likely why the sow that was destroyed went after fish and game inside a trailer inside a freezer.

There is no doubt that having the scent of rotting garbage sticking around Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Storey’s Beach for two weeks can only entice bears to visit and potentially create human/wildlife conflicts.

We as citizens are a huge part of the problem, so we need to become a huge part of the solution.

We need to do what we can to prevent conflicts with wild animals such as cougars and bears by keeping our garbage locked up, picking up fruit that drops to the ground, etc.

The communities should also look at partnering on a Bear Smart Community Program through the Ministry of Environment, Conservation Officer Service, and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Bear Smart BC consultants develop professional bear safety education programs tailored to meet the unique needs of municipalities.

Taking proactive steps to prevent conflict with bears is our best defense whether in an urban, agricultural, or wilderness setting. Working together, we can cut down not only on the number of animals having to be put down, but the number of offspring having to go through stressful experiences.

Together we can make a difference.