Killing bears unacceptable

Letter from Ray Zimmerman on the recent bear killings in the Cariboo.


Re: Recent bear killings in Wildwood.

The recent killing of a mother bear and her cubs in Wildwood has sickened me, moved others to tears, and outraged many. The stress, terror and suffering of these sentient creatures is inexcusable in 2012 and reflects primitive attitudes that have no place in a civilized society.

This abuse of animals is a breach of public trust and the antithesis of conservation. It makes it very difficult for anyone who cares about wildlife to ever involve the local Conservation Office in any future wildlife/human interactions, knowing that doing so is likely to result in death for the animals. People should not be placed under such anguish and turmoil as exists today because of the profoundly simplistic, unsophisticated approach to bear/human conflict.

The needless destruction of life and biodiversity is out of step with “Beautiful, Natural British Columbia” and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land Use Plan, the product of years of work involving hundreds of people. That plan strives to respect all values, including wildlife.

Killing animals on first encounters deprives those animals and their populations of the opportunity to learn the human-imposed rules. Hazed bears are people-smart bears that pass their knowledge to their offspring. The current “shoot-don’t-haze” policy perpetuates the very problem conservation staff should be solving.

There is a better way. The “Get Bear Smart Society” website holds information on non-lethal bear management techniques, including a decision matrix that allows for escalating response. The Whistler Bear Smart program has reduced bear killings by over 50 per cent despite a fourfold increase in bear/human interactions, averaging 6.5 for the last four years, including two in 2012.

Nine years living in 150 Mile House tells me that the people of Williams Lake will find the current bear “management” approach wholly unacceptable. The Get Bear Smart Society has resources to help local people implement humane wildlife conflict resolution. I urge everyone who cares about wildlife to get involved and stop the unnecessary wildlife killings.

Ray Zimmerman


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