The warnings about bears in our midst have been louder and more prevalent this year than previously.
Bears are nothing new, of course, they were here long before many of us so why are we hearing so much about them now?
Well, it does appear that human-bear conflicts are becoming more frequent and that’s usually to the detriment of the bear. But it’s not so much that we are encroaching on the bear’s territory – we are, as our cities and towns expand ever further into our provincial forests. It’s more that we don’t know how to live with bears on our doorsteps. Consequently, provincial wildlife officials have launched bear aware campaigns in an effort to educate the public on how their actions are impacting bears.
For a vision on what bear awareness looks like, you only have to visit national parks in Canada and the United States. That’s where you see zero-tolerance for sloppy behaviour that encourages bears to come waltzing around your campsite. Park rangers are downright militant about making sure campers and park visitors leave no trace that would appeal to a hungry bear.
No food can be left out, cooking equipment has to be stored away and nothing that has a fragrance can be left behind in a campsite that has nobody in attendance. Steel bear-proof containers are provided for campers to store things that would attract a bear. Many parks confiscate anything that has been left behind.
Now, our homes are not campgrounds and we have a right to leave our presence in our yards but we can be more careful and remove things like fallen fruit or other garbage. It will make your property look better and it will keep the bears away.
It’s all about learning to live with the bears rather than the old approach of removing “nuisance” wildlife. The presence of wildlife is a blessing and adapting to their needs and understanding their desires allows us to live in harmony with our environment. And that’s a model that can be applied elsewhere in our relationship with the natural world, which, in the end, encompasses everything in our life.