Friday afternoon I exited my Uphill driveway to hear three loud bangs in short succession. Horrified, as I’ve dreaded such an outcome, I knew right away that the conservation officer (CO) had shot one of the bears that has roamed our neighbourhood for the past few weeks.
After he shot the mother bear, he had to move into our neighbour’s backyard to also shoot her two healthy cubs hiding in a tree. BANG. BANG. BANG.
As the berries now dry up early, the bears move downhill to easy feeding grounds in town. The interface with the forest is right above our house. All of Nelson lives within a kilometre or two of where the wild animals travel, a desirable place to live that comes with responsibility.
Having watched the cubs gambolling in the walnut tree next door for weeks, they are not a statistic to me, my husband and many of our neighbours; they were intelligent animals adapting to a lousy situation. We practise tolerance (dog supervised outside) and keep our garbage and compost inside at this time of year, though we too were slow to collect the hazelnuts. I was told that the CO had relocated three bears prior to these. Budget failed for this family of three? BANG. BANG. BANG.
We are all responsible, habituated as we are to casually keeping our garbage unsecured and our fruit and nuts unpicked. One person’s negligent behaviour can prove fatal for a bruin family as bears are smart and hungry at this time of year and learn quickly.
Nelson needs to implement bear-proof garbage collection and look to other more progressive communities. Banff, Alta., eliminated garbage conflict by installing bear-proof garbage and recycling stations throughout town.
With high summer temperatures killing bears’ food, this situation isn’t going away.