Scare those bears
OK, I've had it. I'm officially pissed off. I have had four close encounters this past week with Whistler bears that are not respecting the physical-distancing measures ordered by [our provincial health officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry. And it's mostly our fault.
The [bears] have become complacent to our physical presence and the pitiful human noises we make. We have to rise up and #scarethebear when it is safe to do so. We must do this to protect them. Excellent bear information can be found at www.whistler.ca/services/environmental-stewardship/bears.
Of course we must continue to: Put all garbage and recycling in wildlife-proof containers or enclosures; manage other attractants, such as barbecues, bird feeders and fruit and berry bushes; keep barbecues clean or out of reach so they don't tempt bears to hang around human-inhabited areas; keep dogs on a leash when hiking; be wary while walking or biking on trails at dawn and dusk; and avoid moving through bear habitat silently or alone.
Call a B.C. conservation officer at 1-877-952-7277 if a bear is where it should not be.
But we must do more. We cannot stand by, observe bears, take their photos and allow them to be in places where they should not be.
We are complicit in endangering the bears by our silent presence. When they are in our backyards, our parks, or on our trails and roads, there is greater potential for accidental human contact.
If it is safe to do so (check out www.bearsmart.com/play/bear-encounters), we must scare them off so they learn to avoid these areas. I would much rather scare a bear when it is appropriate and safe to do (which I have experience with) than run into one accidentally (which I do not). If shouting doesn't work, I throw stones at them. They are usually readily available, they don't hurt them, but they scare them. I have done this many times over the past 25 years with a 100-per-cent reliable result—they run away!
They are surprised that a human would actually physically threaten them, but more importantly, they are scared, and a scared bear is less likely to have an accidental "close encounter of the human kind."
If you care about these bears, scare 'em to keep 'em alive.
Bruce Mohr // Whistler
Let's consider a balanced approach
I would like to respond to the "Letters to the Editor" written by Dr. Denton Hirsh and Dr. Tom DeMarco in the May 7 and 14 issues of Pique, respectively.
I appreciate the "bigger picture" perspectives that they brought to the table in analyzing some of the costs and consequences of the pandemic measures that have been implemented.
I am a "middle of the road" person; I do not see the world in black and white.
I see that for every action, there is always an (sometimes not so) equal and opposite reaction (to misquote Sir Isaac Newton).
I also have family members who experienced COVID-19 (my son, daughter-in-law and their two kids, plus my cousin's husband). They have all recovered.
Our approach to COVID-19 in Canada has probably saved thousands of lives and prevented our healthcare system from being overrun. The same may be true for many other countries. However, if we look at the global side effects of the pandemic measures taken, these are just some:
• some animals in zoos around the world have experienced starvation or been killed;
• farm animals have been euthanized;
• crops on farms have been destroyed;
• millions of people have lost their jobs and businesses;
• migrant workers have been displaced into poverty and starvation (especially in Asia and Africa);
• major cities face bankruptcy;
• there will be an economic recession of historic proportions;
• land and ocean pollution has increased due to irresponsibly discarded masks and increased use of plastic wrap and containers.
All that makes my own personal situation seem insignificant, the fact that my marriage to a U.S. citizen was deemed by the government as [a] "non-essential" [reason for travel] and we have not been able to be together at all due to the border closure. (We both live alone and have not been symptomatic or sick.)
We are one of many cross-border couples in this situation and needless to say, it takes a toll on mental health to be apart from the most important person in your life for as long as the government decrees. (Let it be known that this can happen in a country that prides itself on democratic principles and human rights.)
So, taking all this into account, the severe and far-reaching costs of the measures that have been implemented to protect us from an unknown virus, can we not ask ourselves if it was totally worth it in the end? What did we achieve and what costs?
Or is there a more moderate or balanced approach that could achieve sufficient containment without so much global destruction in almost every facet of life?
Lisa Woo // Whistler
Flatten the curve of food waste
My name is Sam Tierney, [and I am] a Grade 7 student at Signal Hill Elementary School in Pemberton, B.C.
I am person who has a very large conscience and recently have become very concerned about climate change. I have been trying to make a difference at my school by improving the recycling system. Now that school has unexpectedly shut its doors, it is harder to continue with this side project; therefore, I have shifted my mind to other ways I can make a difference.
Recently, my teacher told me to watch a documentary about food waste called Just Eat It. A Food Waste Story. What I saw was shocking. I learned that globally, about one-third of the food produced is wasted, normally due to tiny cosmetic imperfections or misinterpreted best-before dates. In Canada, the number is even bigger, coming in at roughly 40 per cent.
But this number is avoidable.
Of the food waste in Canada, about 63 per cent could actually have been eaten. Fruits and vegetables make up for 45 per cent of this unnecessary food waste. When people go grocery shopping, they are looking for the best and most beautiful fruits and vegetables. Because of this, farms and grocery stores discard large amounts of produce that have tiny bruises that can be easily cut off, but of course, it's easier to just buy the perfect ones.
Some grocery stores do things differently, however, as Nesters Market told me they compost their waste (or donate it to the food bank if possible). Pemberton Valley Supermarket has told me they will put the food they have to take off the shelf in 99-cent bags [for sale]. That is only if it is fit for human consumption and if not, they will put it in a scrap bag that farmers can buy with a $2 donation to the food bank to feed to chickens and cows.
Another problem is that some people don't like eating leftovers and will just buy something new every night, therefore leaving the leftovers to rot in the back of the fridge. When bad food goes into the landfill, after rotting in the fridge, it creates ozone-depleting gases.
But I believe there is great hope, as Whistler recently made a bylaw that says, "[all commercial and strata properties] ... must [collect] compost."
There are facilities to drop off compost. In addition, Sea to Sky Soil takes lots of food waste from local grocery stores and restaurants.
As proven in the documentary, food waste is a big problem. My question to you is, how do we fight it then?
Here are my thoughts and a challenge to you, the person reading this. The next time you go grocery shopping, look for the "imperfect" produce. Try to rescue them from their inevitable fate in the dumpster.
Another thing you can do is plan the week's meals out ahead of time, so you don't have to go grocery shopping every three days and impulse shop your way to tonight's dinner. Also—EAT YOUR LEFTOVERS! They're probably still going to taste fine and it's a way to protect the environment. Or, if you hate eating leftovers that much, just cook enough for tonight's dinner! It's pretty simple, and it helps protect the environment (and your pow in the winter).
The final thing you can do is start a compost because, let's face it, you have to throw food out sometimes. But at least this way, you can stop all this waste from going to the landfill and reduce the harmful gases from going into our atmosphere.
By doing just one of these things, you can help save the world, save yourself money and flatten the curve of food waste!
Sam Tierney // Pemberton