LETTER: Nelson council ignores residents concerned about bears

From reader Anita Johnson

At a recent meeting of Nelson City Council, serious concerns and criticism regarding bear shootings stemming from inadequate waste management, was presented to the city, along with a petition signed by over 21,000 people demanding bear smart changes to Nelson’s waste management policies.

Among these concerns were the absence of bear proof containers for residents, which would enable people to safely and effectively store their garbage and greatly reduce available wildlife attractants and human/bear conflict throughout the city.

The Get Bear Smart Society, whose work informs and influences bear management practices and policies across North America, indicates that bear proof containers are the most important and effective tool in cities with curbside pickup, as is the case in Nelson.

Mayor Dooley’s flippant and dismissive response to the presentation: “Anyone else that has a comment for council? Preferably a different subject?” is both insulting and indicative of the city’s unwillingness to listen to its residents, even when presented with pertinent facts from knowledgeable and qualified organizations.

The impending organics diversion program is being promoted as the solution to eliminate garbage odours and attractants, while in reality, there will still exist an abundance of odorous attractants in our garbage that the composting system does not address.

The city’s continuing inaction in regard to this issue is inexcusable. It is a municipal responsibility to regulate and manage wildlife attractants that bring wildlife into communities. Bears in Nelson are being killed at an alarming rate in direct relation to accessing attractants.

On Oct. 15, I urge all residents of Nelson to exercise their voting power and help elect a new municipal government with morals that value the wildlife around us that contribute to the beauty and wonder of this mountain town that we are lucky to call home, and deserves our protection and respect.

Anita Johnson