Castlegar Bear Crisis
Citizens of Castlegar, BC, want answers as to why local conservation officers have shot a record number of bears in the area this year, reports the Vancouver Sun.
There have been close to 1,000 complaints about bears through the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line and so far this year 61 bears have been tragically killed by officials in the area, Castlegar News explains.
Castlegar Conservation officers insist that bears are not destroyed simply for being in an urban environment. Instead, they are terminated when they grow accustomed to human incentives and ultimately become a menace to society. The poor berry harvest this year has led to a mass movement of bears from the mountains into populated areas. The bears may come in search of a berry substitute but they stay due to human negligence. Garbage, bird feeders, fruits and nuts left outside are perfect lures for opportunist bears and should be disposed of.
Castlegar mayor Lawrence Chernoff is adamant that there is a much more humane way of dealing with the bear problem. Bear Aware British Columbia agrees with him. Bear Aware clarifies that bears have no desire to prey on humans, and designed the Bear Smart Community program to address the root causes of bear/human conflicts. Prevention (keeping foodstuffs hidden), translocation (trapping and releasing bears into the wild), and aversive conditioning to humans are viable options for ensuring bear safety.
Nevertheless, Bear Smart bylaws should be implemented to prohibit the provision of food to bears as a result of intent, neglect or irresponsible management of attractants. For instance, towns should make it an offence to discard or store waste, food, or other attractants in bear-resistant containers.
We must take responsibility for our actions and prevent further harm from befalling these beautiful, innocent creatures!