Bear Aware

?As I approached the police officer excused himself so I introduced myself to the bear aware person and told him what had happened and asked what was going to be done about this little bear.NOTHING. He told me he has tracked this bear through our green belt in town for awhile now. Picked up its dropping to see what it is eating and followed it around our town. He has come to the conclusion that this young teenage bear is no threat to our children or the general public. In fact he has named him/her BOO BOO and also had to say that this bear is a resident in this community like you and I?.

As I read Mr Cyr?s letter to the editor, I couldn?t help but empathize with him for his concern about the bears in our community and the danger they present to our citizens who could possibly have a serious encounter with them.

I feel that the general public has a right to know how things work and, knowing this, frustrated citizens like Mr Cyr can start using their voting power and lobby to bring about much needed attention and change to the issue of conservation and how things are done.

Firstly, there are 112 Conservation Officers in all of BC. That?s right, I said ALL OF BC! Sweeping cutbacks to the program have crippled the CO Service in BC and their mandate has increased to include enforcement of new environmental laws as well. Our government has effectively tied their hands and told them to swim.

I am not a conservation officer and I work for a independent foundation: the BC Conservation Foundation. Our mandate is to reduce human/bear conflict through education, information and cooperation. We work closely with the RCMP and Conservation Officer Service, industry, the municipality, businesses and citizens to effect change in how domestic attractants are dealt with and make people aware of how they can live with bears.

I go WAY beyond my mandate here in Tumbler Ridge confronting bears, chasing bears, putting myself constantly at personal risk and hazing them to move them out of residential areas. I recently received an official reprimand for this action as hazing should only be carried out by a Conservation Officer, anyone else using bear bangers, etc, off their property is ?harassing wildlife?. My superior understands our unique situation here in Tumbler but he has to do his job and I have to comply with the request of the Conservation Officer Service.

I?m sure that Mr Cyr expected me to go after this bear and shoot it or make arrangements to have it relocated and I understand his expectations. Each bear sighting is reported by me directly to the Conservation Officer for our area (he lives in Dawson), he is aware of every movement here in TR.

Unfortunately, that doesn?t change anything.

Unless a bear is acting aggressively towards people or into unnatural food sources, nothing will be done about it. If there is a clear threat, the threat will be dealt with as quickly as possible. A bear sighting I?m afraid, will generally not even hit the radar. There simply are not enough officers to respond to the over 20,000 bear complaints province wide. In TR, we?ve had well over 80 since the beginning of the season. Remember, our Conservation Officer is one man with a huge work load and it?s work that can?t be passed off to me.

So where does that leave us?

I?m working hard to make people realize how to avoid attracting bears to our community because I know that unless our bears start acting aggressively, they will be around until denning in the fall. We can?t leave all our attractants strewn over the back yard and just expect the CO to come a runnin? with his shot gun to clean up our mess. I?m also trying my best to get town council to realize exactly what kind of bear issue we actually have here. You all can help with that, give them a call!

Bottom Line: It?s up to Mr Cyr and all citizens concerned about this issue to use there voice and voting power to effect change. We need more funding for conservation, more Conservation Officers so they can do the job that we expect them to do. That?s all.

?Till next week, bear with me.