Editorial: Keep wildlife wild

Spring has sprung, and with the weather warming up each day, all of the critters are coming out from their winter hiding places, and taking a look at their surroundings.

They are stretching their legs, and travelling further each day, and some of them might end up in town.

Animals, like bears, are more likely to wander toward town in the hunt for food sources. These habitualized animals search out easy access to their meals, and become quite comfortable sticking around if they can find an easy entree.

With an acute sense of smell, black bears can sniff out food sources around 30 kilometres away.

After speaking with a conservation officer recently about bear activity, I’ve related bears breaking into garbage bins and enclosures to that of a human with a can opener. They are able to use their incredible strength to tear open many things. The conservation officer said to think about it as if you’re holding a one-metre long crowbar. If you can use that crowbar to pry into a container or enclosure, a bear can do the same with its paws.

These bears are so fast, they can run as fast as a car driving through town at 50 kilometres per hour. I guess that means they’ll be over to check out your BBQ leftovers only half an hour after you’ve gone inside.

Year after year, we hear the same warning. As residents living in a forested community, we have to be extra vigilant to ensure we don’t have any attractants out. This means locking up and putting away garbage containers, keeping fallen fruit off the ground and disposed of, and taking similar precautions when camping or having an outdoor event.

Already, a black bear has broken into someone’s contained garbage, south of town. The photos make it look like the bear just pried the bottom of a door open, ruining someone’s property. Even though these people tried to do the right thing, containing and locking up the garbage, the bear made a free meal out of it anyway.

All we can do is minimize the amount of attractants in town. Hopefully, bears won’t become habitualized to access garbage from town, which will in turn save their lives.

The Conservation Officer Service works to educate the public about how they can reduce these interactions. They will even hand out tickets to people who are being negligent. They don’t want to kill bears (euthanize, or destroy), but they have a responsibility to protect the public, and will do this as a last resort.

Let’s keep each other safe, and protect the lives of bears by doing out part.

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