A fed bear is a dead bear. The adage is often contested, and there’s a whole conversation about modern wildlife management practices to be had; but, generally speaking, many bears who learn to forage for anthropogenic food sources (human created) end up killed by government agencies.
In Coquitlam, British Columbia, enforcement of local by-laws has made a dent in homeowner behaviour. According to a CTV article, “early garbage infractions” are trending downward from 4,914 in 2017 to 2,689 in 2018. This year the number is at 512.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who noted he still sees individuals putting out organic waste and garbage overnight when riding home from council meetings, is pleased with the overall change.
“Absolutely pleased to see the numbers coming down," Mayor Stewart told CTV. "We can do better and we need to instill in every body (sic) what's at stake."
Mayor Stewart is right: there’s no reason that any black bears should be killed because of anthropogenic food sources. There are solutions, there is educational material, there are rules and by-laws and fines both locally and provincially. Yet the problem persists. And that means communities need to take one more step: tell on their neighbours.
It’s unpopular and uncomfortable. But the reality is bears (and other wildlife) will be killed because of human behaviour, and it’s up to us to change that. If you see neighbours feeding wildlife directly or indirectly, of if they’re breaking local or provincial rules on managing attractants, please contact your local by-law department. If you’re not sure who to call, just look up your municipality online (the one listed on your taxes) or try calling 3-1-1. If your community won't accept anonymous complaints please contact The Fur-Bearers so we can help investigate solutions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A fed bear is a dead bear isn’t a popular adage, so let’s replace it with a new one: snitches save lives.
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