There’s a better way to live with bears

I am writing in regards to the recent human-bear conflict in Williams Lake and the surrounding area.

Editor:

I am writing in regards to the recent human-bear conflict in Williams Lake and the surrounding area.

I grew up at 150 Mile House, born and raised in a hunting and fishing family. Although I moved to Pemberton, B.C. 15 years ago, I still maintain close family ties to the area and community as a whole. The way of life in the Cariboo is ingrained upon me and I proudly have passed that on to my own family. So, it was with dismay that I learned about the recent bear killings in the area.

For the past five years, I have been working with the Get Bear Smart Society, a non-profit organization in Whistler. Our group works with many stakeholders (including our local waste disposal company, our municipality, RCMP and conservation service) at reducing human-bear conflict and striving towards non-lethal bear management.  It has been an amazing experience that has really shown me what can be achieved with team work and community involvement.

I want the community of Williams Lake to know that there is a better way of co-existing with bears. It is absolutely shocking and unacceptable for so many bears to be shot in the area in such a short time. I urge the folks in Williams Lake to take a stance. Demand better – of  your Conservation Officer Service, your community, neighbours, and yourselves.

Make change happen! This starts with securing your attractants (check www.bearsmart.com to see what constitutes an attractant) and encouraging and educating your neighbours to do the same. Write letters to mayor and council and request that they initiate a garbage/wildlife attractants bylaw and support Bear Smart community initiatives. Join together with local stakeholders to reduce human-bear conflict by initiating a Bear Smart movement  (see www.bearsmart.com for info. on how to make this happen). And, finally, voice your opinions to the conservation service. There are ways to successfully manage bears in a non-lethal manner.

As a community deeply connected to the land, you have it in your very being to provide protection and conservation in a time of need.

It doesn’t seem possible that so many bears could all be causing trouble at the same time. It doesn’t happen that way. It breaks my heart. It’s not acceptable. Not here – and not there.

Dawn Johnson

Get Bear Smart Society

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