What are we paying C.O. Service for?

If North Islanders can't get a satisfactory response from the Conservation Service, why should we pay for its service?

Dear editor,

Open letter to the Ministry of Environment and Stephen Harper:

I’ve decided to write you this because I am an outraged citizen of Port Hardy who pays the wages of your employees to protect the wildlife species and people of Vancouver Island’s north end.

I don’t believe I or others should pay for services NOT rendered by a “Conservation Officer” who not only lives two and a half hours out of town, but refuses to attend most wildlife (bear) calls.

These calls are made by citizens who have been or felt threatened by bear in this area. I am just one of those citizens. They will not relocate bear because of the expense? So what, exactly, are we paying for?

I am not in the habit of calling Conservation Officers. I’ve had bear walk by the home I’ve owned for seven years now. They’ve never been after my garbage. I have called twice in those seven years. The bears I call about had no fear of humans.

Recently, I used a “screamer” to try to scare a bear off. It didn’t budge and instead it charged the window I was standing in. It was within my arm’s length and huffed at me. It left two paw prints on my trailer just under the window.

A week earlier, it was in my neighbour’s yard, and charged my window when I tried to scare it off by making lots of noise. I learned how vulnerable I was. This bear could easily reach through or climb through that window.

I called the Conservation phone number given to me by the 911 operator at 11:30 p.m. The man who answered was condescending, rude and not the least bit interested that I felt threatened. He told me if I had no urgent or pressing matters not to leave my house that night. There are evenings when I am out and arrive home late. He begrudgingly took down my phone number. I never received a call.

I know numerous others have complained about the same bear, but to no avail. The RCMP will drive by the location called in, but Conservation is nowhere to be seen.

It is now my understanding that someone who lives in our park has shot the bear. It was doing damage to his property. It was told to me this man is now being charged.

If charged, convicted and given a criminal record, it is because a “Conservation Officer” has not done his job. This has been going on a number of years. There is more regard for a dangerous animal than for people’s safety.

Conservation Officers have forced residents to deal with this themselves. Are other communities in B.C. having this problem as well?

The Ministry of Environment should be held financially accountable for any injury/death and personal property damage when (not if) this happens.

J. Harvie

Port Hardy

 

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