Humans create un-bearable situation

Many problem bear issues stem from the actions of humans.

Over many years of observing thousands of bears both black and grizzly, the only certainty has been that each encounter has been unique. Just like people, bears have personalities, and they have emotions, and if bears are unpredictable what does that make humans? Scary unpredictable.

Over the last number of weeks we’ve had quite a bit of wildlife activity in North Island communities. Cougars looking to feed on stray cats and munching on rat-size dogs, and, as we move forward into autumn our local bruins come to town for fast-food take out at their favourite homes.

Now I know it’s only been 40 years of educating people to secure their garbage. Most people get it, much like drinking and driving, but there’s that minority of very special people, unique like the missing link between Neanderthal and modern man, who continue to place their garbage out the day before pickup.

And this is where the problem begins. It’s not a bear issue, it’s a human issue. You know — the most intelligent species on the planet? These bears, especially young males, become habituated and male bears between the ages of three and five years are much like human teenagers filled with lots of testosterone.

Two weeks ago the Port Hardy RCMP were dealing with a tagged male bear, one who had already had his paw in someone’s garbage, that was creating quite a bit of havoc for most of the day. By mid-afternoon the RCMP had caught up to the bear in question, which was on Granville near the four-way stop. The bear finally moved away from people toward the greenbelt, at which time the officer followed and appropriately discharged a bear banger to spook the bear. The officer was harangued by a number of bystanders for what he had done.

If one of those who harangued the officer is reading this, here’s just a bit of insight on young male black bears. Since 1964 the stats illustrate that more than 68 per cent of all black bears attacks resulting in humans being killed were predatory in nature. The bear killed to eat. And, where sex and age were confirmed, all the predatory bears were young males, almost all were healthy, and most were habituated where it could be inferred.

Next is the behaviour issue: bears are curious by nature. Young males, especially the 3- to 5-year-olds, as the stats above illustrate, can be quite aggressive if you don’t stop their moving from curious to bold stage. And from here they will move into predatory behaviour if the opportunity exists. When bears are habituated and lose fear of humans, aggressive steps are required to re-establish that healthy balance, and bear bangers are one tool of education.

And here’s the kicker. I’ll use a 4-year-old healthy male grizzly which was a tagged offender in Canmore, Alberta several years ago. It wasn’t until he killed a school teacher that the authorities killed him, and the authorities were chastised for not killing the bear sooner. It’s a no-win situation for the authorities. In this case it was a golf course that expanded into a major wildlife corridor, creating stress on grizzly bear tagged #99, creating a human problem bear that killed.

So instead of haranguing the authorities for trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation, go and harangue the culprits who leave their garbage unsecured, creating the situation in the first place. And it’s easy to see where the problems are in town.

Personally I say trap, tag and relocate the offending humans and we’ll not have to destroy beautiful bears. Oh, and while you’re at it, include those who drink and drive.

Lawrence Woodall is a longtime naturalist who has spent much of his life in the outdoors.

 

Just Posted

Adopted pet pig gets killed and eaten

Animal was adopted out by SPCA staff in the Cowichan Valley

Woss Forestry Program now officially tuition free

All particpants for the first intake will have their tuition funded

Snowfall this morning in Port Hardy

Environment Canada reports 5 to 10 centimeters

RDMW frustrated over WFP response to logging trucks on the highway

“The only way you are going to have our trust back is if you sit with us all at the table.”

Working group discusses public intoxication problem in Port Hardy

The aim is to “set up a framework to make the community a safer place.”

President praises nearly 1,800 volunteers at B.C. Games

Ashley Wadhwani sits down with the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games President Niki Remesz

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

Vancouver Island job market ever-evolving

Various sectors driving employment in region will be represented at Black Press career fair in Comox Feb. 8

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Minor injuries after car veers into Courtenay dance studio

A driver and passenger were taken to hospital after their vehicle crashed… Continue reading

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

Most Read