April 25, 2011
It sure sounds cute — a big, ol’ bear in the minivan munching on the kids’ Easter candy. Unfortunately, it’s bears like this one that often wind up getting shot.
That’s because they get used to the easy pickings in the city — garbage left outside, fallen fruit left to rot on the ground, pet food sitting in the yard, barbecues that aren’t properly cleaned, bird feeders brimming with seed. Sure, there’s a few pesky humans, but they can easily be dispatched.
In the end, though, we’ve got the guns, and — sadly — it’s the citified bears that wind up dead. Luckily, education programs — along with the city’s bear bylaw — have drastically reduced the bruin carnage in recent years.
It was just a year and a half ago that Kamloops was named B.C.‘s first official Bear Smart city. When then-Environment Minister Barry Penner made the announcement at the B.C. Wildlife Park, we were recognized for having brought the number of bear deaths down from a peak of about 100 a decade ago to just three in 2009.
You can read more about the bear bylaw at the city’s website, but the most important part is to keep your garbage where bears can’t get at it. Our trash is their treasure, and they’ll gladly feast on leftovers. There are also plenty of tips, but my favourite is phoning the Food Bank to ask for a team of gleaners to pick your fruit tree clean. That way, both species come out ahead.