Mrs. Bear Guy has the den all ready, I?m feeling fat and sleepy and winter is just a breath away so it?s time to say goodbye but before tucking in for a long winter?s nap, I?d like to thank all the citizens of Tumbler Ridge who have taken steps to reduce the attractants which bring bears into our community.

We have a long way to go but we have made a start.

It has been a very difficult year; we?ve seen more serious bear issues in Canada this year than in recent years combined and Tumbler had it?s fair share: more than 124 complaints, one bear relocated, 6 bears destroyed (2 of which were cubs); some very disappointing results but at least no one was hurt during the several dangerous bear/human encounters which occurred in town this summer.

Please remember that the decision to destroy or relocate bears rests solely with the RCMP and the Conservation Officer (Brad Lacey from the Dawson Creek CO Service). I have however assisted Officer Lacey in trapping and relocating bears on occasion. The CO and the RCMP follow a very strict criteria set forth by the Ministry of the Environment which I have published in the paper. If you have questions or issue regarding destroyed bears or relocation, you should contact the Dawson Creek Conservation Officer Service or the RCMP.

There were good results as well: garbage left out overnight before pick up day went down 60% on average, some open barrel garbage containers were substituted with bear proof containers, Shop Easy has a new can with lid, we have a new and more humane bear trap, and most of all, our citizens have a new heightened awareness about how to avoid baiting bears into our community.

What will next year be like? It will depend on the weather and the available natural food sources for the bears. It will also depend on what steps Mayor, Council and the citizens of TR are ready to take about garbage and other attractants. Certainly the removal of 7 bears from our ecosystem will influence the frequency of bear/human conflict until new bears move into the now unoccupied home ranges.

It is important to remember that the bears which were removed/destroyed this year had been ?trained? for years to come to town for a meal, we taught them this behaviour and encouraged it over years by not being more proactive in managing garbage and other attractants. Bears are not here to entertain us. They should not be trained to leave their wilderness home and ignore their natural food to come and eat out of our garbage. Personally, I can?t imagine a sadder sight than that of such a majestic and noble creature eating our garbage while towns people watch in amusement.

As a result of human habituation and human food conditioning, around 1000 bears are needlessly destroyed each year in BC alone; people are injured or killed; garbage bears cut their paws, split their teeth, lacerate their tongues and digestive tracts and often die from these injuries; millions of dollars of damage occurs to property and son on, and so on. We share this land with bears but we don?t often act like we do; we don?t often act with the respect due to one of our most noble creatures and an essential part of our natural and cultural heritage. Let?s do our part to keep bears wild.

Well, Mrs. Bear Guy says it?s time to turn out the light so I?ll say goodbye. Please keep bears in mind when spring comes; bears will always be bears, it?s up to us to make a difference.

?Not much longer can the forest hope to stem the tide of progress; change is on every hand. Every year those who follow the receding Border further and further back, see one by one the links with the old days being severed, as the demands of a teeming civilization reach tentacles into the very heart of the Wild Lands. And we who stand regretfully and watch, must either adapt ourselves to the new conditions, or, preferably, follow the ever-thinning line of last defence into the shadows, where soon will vanish every last one of the Dwellers amongst the Leaves.?

Grey Owl – ?The Men of the Last Frontier? (1931)

?Till next year, bear with me.