It’s always a little stunning when our local conservation office does an audit on how bear aware we are as a community. We always fail the test.
At the end of May the conservation office spread out across the community to see if residents are properly securing garbage, caring properly for fruit trees, managing their compost and eliminating all other wildlife attractants. What they found was that too many people have no respect for the environment in which we live.
Out of 175 properties surveyed, officials found 40 with unsecured garbage. That’s 28 per cent of residents who seemingly have no clue that a messy property equals conflicts with bears and other animals. That number is much too high.
Not properly tending to your property causes unnecessary death for bears, endangers neighbours and takes time away from officials who have more pressing issues that need attention. How much more obvious does it need to be?
The province estimates that the BC Conservation Officer Service spends more than $1 million every year responding to bear complaints and relocating or destroying bears. Under new amendments to the Wildlife Act, an order is handed out — of which 12 were given during the most recent Nelson audit — and if people fail to comply they face a penalty of up to $50,000 and/or six months in jail.
The punishments should be severe, but common sense should prevent any of this from happening.
We are extremely fortunate to live in such an amazing speck of the world. Our incredible geography comes with wildlife that equally enjoy the terrain. It’s time we all thought about that little more and start respecting the creatures that live in our surrounding forests.