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Scare those bears

LETTER: For the week of May 21
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Black bear. Getty Images

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




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