Coexisting with bears

by Chris Genovali
Edmonton Journal August 31, 2009

Re: “Bears kept eating as companions shot; ‘Serious public safety issue’ required quick action, official says,”.   The massacre — as one local resident described it — at the Conklin dump is a reminder of similar problems here in British Columbia with “control kills” of bears.A disturbing number of grizzly bears are being shot as control kills in the Bella Coola valley on B.C.’s central coast. Records obtained from the provincial ministry of environment show that a total of 18 grizzlies were killed as “problem bears” over the course of 2007 and 2008. The majority of these grizzlies are being destroyed as a result of human behaviour — primarily a failure to secure bear attractants.

This isn’t the first time the region has experienced control kill issues. In 2005, Raincoast Conservation investigated the shooting of grizzly bears by government officials at the landfill site in Bella Coola. Between 15 and 22 grizzlies were killed there in 2004, their bodies buried along with the garbage.

Dr. Stephen Herrero is right — these are issues of ethics and they raise questions as to how we are going to treat bears. Further, what does our continued indifference and inability to peacefully coexist with bears say about us as a species?

—Chris Genovali, executive director, Raincoast Conservation, Sidney, B.C.

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