The Tale of The Three Bears
In the early hours of October 12 the residents on the far side of my street were wakened up by the cries of two cubs trapped in the dumpster outside a school. Conservation officers came and rescued the two distressed animals, trapped and captured the mother and another cub nearby.
Apparently this family of bears have been involved in a series of conflicts in the neighborhood as they have been eating unsecured garbage. Instead of picking berries and other vegetation, the mom had taught her young to eat from garbage cans and dumpster and as a result they have been seen around the area. As recent as three weeks ago, I saw one of them wandered out of a neighbor’s back yard looking for food.
The incident was finally resolved by 8am in the morning. The officers had no choice but to euthanize the mother as it is too late in the season to relocate her. Unfortunately she was also too old to be a good candidate for rehabilitation. The three orphaned cubs who are too young to fend for themselves were then taken to a wildlife rehabilitation for the coming cold weather.
Two days ago another bear incident happened in Whistler. A favorite local bear by the name of Jeanie had to be put down for the same reason. According to the locals Jeanie was an iconic figure in the community who was well-loved by the residents. She was friendly until recently when her taste for garbage finally led her to some aggressive behavior. After much struggle the conservation office had to make the painful decision for the safety of the people in the area.
These two bears are now part of the statistics: More than 1,000 bears are killed every year in British Columbia because of bear-human conflicts. Almost all of these bears were attracted into neighbourhoods by improperly stored garbage and food. Exposure to humans causes bears to lose their natural fear of people. When this happens, bears become a potential threat. The coordinator of Bear Aware says bears will continue to die if people fail to secure their trash. In the news releases, the officials have emphasized repeatedly that humans need to be more responsible to make their communities safer and to prevent unnecessary killing of bears.
I feel really sad and angry as I hear these stories. Even though I do not look forward to bear sightings, in reality we are the ones who are intruding in their backyard. People and bears are sharing spaces in our communities, these animals cannot change but we can. We can simply make a few minor adjustments in our daily routine, such as not leaving garbage outside, cleaning up our grills when we are done. After all it is our primary responsiblity to take care of God ‘s creation as He had commanded us to “rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Sadly, we have failed miserably at this.
These unnecessary bear killings reminded me of our sinful nature. We acted in disobedience when we do not take the word of God to heart, and treat His creation with contempt. Tragically we not only suffer the consequences of our sins but the innocent ones will also. Like the yeast it infects the whole batch. In our transgression we not only hurt ourselves but the whole body as well.
Bears are not the problem…we are.