Recently a mother bear and three cubs were slaughtered by conservation officers in the Wildwood area of Williams Lake. This unprogressive approach to human-wildlife encounters is all too common in certain areas of our province. Their justification: wildlife animals in urban areas that do not show fear of humans are a threat to public safety and must be killed.
I contend that there is no incident involving a wildlife animal that cannot be resolved using more humane means. If given the time and space to do so, this mother bear and her cubs would have moved on. Had she not, she could have been deterred with non-lethal methods.
In many communities in B.C., across Canada and the U.S., conservation services have a no-kill approach when dealing with urban wildlife (Burnaby, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Mississauga, Niagara Falls, Banff, and Jasper to name only a few).
They have adopted a more progressive, humane and ultimately beneficial way of dealing with human-wildlife encounters. For example, signs are erected by conservation services and the municipality in areas frequented by wildlife, informing residents to employ appropriate precautions. The public is instructed to keep cats indoors, dogs on a leash, and garbage stored where it cannot be accessed by animals. “Hazing” techniques (loud noise) and in extreme cases, bear spray, are also recommended.
Two parties are responsible here. The public must be educated in and compliant with the above strategies.
Conservation services must have a change in mentality and practices and adopt a no-kill policy, protecting and conserving wildlife rather than killing it.
At this point, it seems, we have to protect urban wildlife from the conservation services.
Concerned residents are attempting to organize a town meeting where the public will have an opportunity to express their outrage to Mayor Kerry Cook and to Conservation Sergeant Len Butler (Len.Butler@gov.bc.ca).
Be advised, in Kamloops and throughout the province advocates are alerted to this issue in Williams Lake and will be monitoring the activities of conservation services there.
Advocates for Urban Wildlife