Letters: Proactive vs. reactive

Bears are attracted to garbage in most neighbourhoods

In response to B.J. Peterson’s letter, “Be bear aware,” Nov. 2 Sooke News Mirror, being bear aware is really about understanding a few bear basics.

If you feel that a bear has taken up residence in your neighbourhood, have a look around for its food source. It wouldn’t be hanging around for long if there wasn’t one.

Bears love to eat, live to eat and die to eat. They are opportunistic feeders that tend to frequent areas where they have accessed food in the past — your neighbourhood is no exception.

The ‘baiting’ of bears is illegal in B.C., yet we do it all the time with our garbage. We humans tend to be a wasteful lot and a bag of garbage is an easy meal that provides a lot of calories without the bear having to expend much energy. A couple of factors that are extremely important to a bear, especially at this time of the year.

While I can appreciate your concerns regarding the safety of your neighbourhood, please understand that the problem did not originate with the bear. It originated with the neighbourhood garbage.

Calling in the authorities to deal with your problem bear will not solve the problem. So long as your neighbours continue to supply a food source, it will only be a matter of time before another bear takes its place at the neighbourhood dinner table. Please understand that these bears are rarely relocated, they are destroyed.

If we want to keep our neighbourhoods safe from problem bears, then it is up to us to take the necessary steps to ensure that we are not the ones that continue to create them.

This situation is not going to get better on its own. It’s only going to get worse as the population of Sooke continues to grow.

This situation needs to be managed by those with the authority to do so and until which time our community leaders step up to the plate and establish a bear attractant bylaw, we will continue to create and destroy our problem bears and put the safety of our community at risk.

Is it going to take a human tragedy before we can agree that something needs to be done?

If you go to the environment section on the District of Sooke’s website you will find very little information regarding our district’s bears. However, the half page that does exist states that in 2008, the community of Sooke was considered to have one of the highest levels of human/bear encounters in the province.

Sheila Mattson

Sooke