Bear story misses important question: “What happened that got us to this point?”

Media focuses on ancillary, rather than primary, issue in coverage of bear carcass being dumped at landfill by COS.

The Fur-Bearers received a call this week: Global News heard from a woman who says she saw the BC Conservation Officer Service dumping a bear carcass at a landfill site in Mission, BC.

We spoke with Global, noting that we don’t know the context for what happened and that this is currently the standard disposal method for the COS, and focused on the questions we’d ask: what lead up to the bear being killed? If a conflict situation was bad enough to warrant killing a bear, did they issue a ticket, too? Was a necropsy performed prior to dumping the carcass? Could any euthanasia drugs still be present – and as such leak into the ecosystem through scavenging or decomposition?

The televisioncoverage focused primarily on the fact that the carcass was dumped, and that seeing this occur was upsetting to at least one resident. The dumping of the carcass certainly is an upsetting thing to see; but it is the ancillary issue. The primary issue is how the conservation officer ended up with a dead bear to begin with.

A primary driver for what leads to the killing of bears is what is often called “habituation.” This is a blanket term that is somewhat subjective and not always accurate. But the general principle is that bears will find their way into anthropogenic (human created) food sources like unsecure garbage or compost, tantalizing attractants like unclean barbecues or dog food, and so on. At that point, some will argue (which we don’t agree with) these bears will become a risk to people and need to be killed.

The City of Mission, who wasn’t contacted as part of Global’s coverage, has worked extensively to promote co-existence methods to residents. They have a by-law making it illegal to not clean attractants, they have their literature that volunteers and staff distribute to homes and businesses, and their waste management calendar has co-existence and attractant management information on it.

It is sad that this bear’s carcass was dumped. It is even more sad that, very likely, the actions of humans led to a bear being killed in the first place. Please speak with your friends, family, neighbours, and social media circles about the importance of co-existing with bears and practicing sound waste management practices.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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