BC Conservation Officer Stuart Bates loads a tranquilized five-year-old female black bear into a trailer for relocation. (Kara Olson photo)

Editorial: Don’t feed the bears, deliberately or otherwise

We’d like to beg people not to deliberately feed the bears

It’s a perennial story: spring comes and so do the bears. And along with the bears come human-wildlife conflicts.

Every year it’s the same thing. Reports come in across Vancouver Island of human-bear conflicts. Many times, these conflicts ultimately end with the death of the animals.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service is urging residents to not put garbage out before collection day, and to keep carts secured. Garbage is the attractant that results in half the bear-related problem calls made to the conservation officer service. Other attractants include birdseed, fruit trees and pet food.

Along with not putting out your garbage early, and keeping attractants out of the reach of bears, it would seem a reminder is in order to not deliberately feed the bears. One would think this would go without saying, but history has shown us differently.

Some people think they are being kind, feeding a hungry animal a bit of nourishment. They are, of course, wrong. They are putting both themselves and the bear at risk. While black bears (the kind most common to Vancouver Island) are not overly aggressive, they are still wild animals and people need to remember that.

Then there are the truly reprehensible people who use food to entice bears close so they can get photos for their social media accounts. This isn’t misguided, it’s stupid and self-indulgent in the worst way. Don’t do it.

Bears that become habituated to human food are at much greater risk of having to be euthanized by authorities. Bears remember very clearly where they got food from in the past and will seek it out there in the future. So if they become unafraid of humans and desire human food because they’ve gotten a taste for it, they will enter our communities and pose a danger to the people living there, not to mention our domesticated pets.

We humans are supposed to be the smarter of the two in this bear-human dynamic. We need to act like it and enjoy wildlife like bears from a safe distance — safe for both humans and bears.


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