A recent string of bear encounters in the Metro Vancouver area has sparked growing conversation about wilderness safety and conservation.
Now, Coquitlam’s mayor is speaking out in a big way: calling out residents of his city who believe shooting the bears is the solution to an increased number of attacks and sightings.
Mayor Richard Stewart posted a lengthy essay to his Facebook page that showcases an email he received from a resident.
A lone email represents a shared opinion
Stewart says John is far from the only person in the community with this opinion, in fact people like John make up a portion of the city. But Stewart aims to shift that viewpoint in the other direction as he proceeds to pick apart John’s argument.
“Sorry, John, but referring to bears as “rodents” or “vermin” is ridiculous, and frankly offensive. If it weren’t for our careless handling of our kitchen waste, we would likely never see bears in our neighbourhoods, as they really don’t like humans. Bears thrive in the forest, but as we demonstrate year after year, they will venture into our neighbourhoods if we put out a smorgasbord.”
Not only is Stewart opposed to the idea of killing off bears instead of adjusting human behaviour to better avoid them, he says it just won’t work.
READ MORE: Bear encounter in Capilano River Park
Instead, he urges people to think about human impact on wildlife and what kind of individual changes can be made to better the environment for all who inhabit it.
“But we really need to change that perspective, and we need to up our game, since a fed bear is a dead bear. Our children can inherit a community, and a planet, on which they can live sustainably, but we might have to strive a little less for convenience, and a little more for sustainability.”
Let’s relocate the people feeding the bears, not the bears themselves
“And finally, John (apparently reluctantly) offered an alternative to the bullet — relocation of garbage-acclimated bears. However, biologists warn us that relocation usually isn’t successful. And when relocation attempts fail (as they usually do), eventually the garbage bear is killed. Man is often careless, and our carelessness has caused a lot of harm.”
“Frankly, for the health and safety of our community AND its wildlife, I’d prefer that those who are feeding the bears are the ones who get relocated.”