Don’t feed the bears, part 2

Saltines? Apples? Both are divine to a bear.

Saltines? Apples? Both are divine to a bear.

You recall our last column dealt with a dad who had stopped by the side of the road under a three-metre sign that read, “do not feed the bears” and then proceeded to offer lunch to a very large black bear. That incident prompted a slew of emergency calls to police stating that a bear was on a killing rampage. When officers arrived en mass, they were taken aback by the incident’s reality and angered that their skills were being diverted from real emergencies.

Your 9-1-1 call because of a “marauding” bear takes valuable law enforcement resources from those who need it in a life or death emergency. You can avoid that costly dial by taking preventative measures before the bruins arrive in your backyard or garbage holding area.

Rural Crime Watch has met many transplanted urbanites whose idea of conservation is intimately commiserating with bears. One couple hosted a bear family for years, feeding them dog food on their porch. Each spring Momma bear would bring her cubs to the feeder. One spring a sow became aggressive, rearing on the couple’s sliding door, clawing and shaking her head side to side. The couple felt it was time to leave the bears to their own and regrettably stopped feeding them. Ouch! The house was damaged with teeth and claw marks and for several days the couple was trapped inside as the bears circled the house seeking entry.

The couple knew a call to the police would ring with criticism and condemnation, undoubtedly a fine and the bears’ demise, so they chose not to report the incident hoping time would correct their error and erase the problem. After several days the bears left but returned each spring hoping their cornucopia had been replenished.

Readers are encouraged to accept the reality of rural living. Encounters with wild animals is a given and how you react depends on your preparation. Or not. And intending to call 9-1-1 if an incident occurs is not preparation.

It is not our intent to dramatize or scare, but to advise that bears can be dangerous and should be avoided. RCW encourages you to not take your wilderness safety for granted. Educate yourself to obtain the maximum from your outdoor experiences.

Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz are columnists with Rural Crime Watch.

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