Learning to live with wild animals

We need to develop some empathy for the wildlife around us if we don't want to see it all destroyed.

There’s a slight nip in the air these mornings, just enough to tell us that Fall is close at hand, followed soon afterwards by Winter.

More than that, wildlife is more noticeable as bears, deer, cougar and other animals forage for the cold days ahead.

Bear sightings and stories are becoming more popular by the day as residents all over the area report seeing them in town, near residents, on the streets. It happens every year. And every year, people’s first reaction is to phone the police or the Conservation office to have the “problem” taken care of. That means, shoot it.

No, they don’t tranquilize. No, they don’t relocate it.

Folks, we live in a beautiful part of the country, and part of that beauty is the wildlife. Growing up in the city, the only wildlife I saw were racoons, skunks, stray cats and dogs, birds… I was ecstatic when I saw my first moose in Riding Mountain National Park when I was 18.

Did you know moose can kill? They may be silly-looking beasts to our eyes, but those hooves and antlers come in real handy on an animal with a short temper. Especially when they feel threatened by excited people or dogs, or children throwing rocks or snowballs.

Instead of fearing wildlife, let’s teach our children to respect them and stay a safe distance away from them. Even most wild animals adhere to the “you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you” unspoken rule.

That goes for adults as well. A crowd of gawkers gathering around a cornered bear, moose, bobcat, etc. is not going to end well.

Bears don’t become habituated to people by accident: it happens because there are some who routinely feed them. Same as deer. Racoons. You name it. They think it’s cute. Until it tries to bite someone because the food isn’t there.

Wild animals are wild and for the most part, unused to humans. If you see a bear, avoid it. If you feel cornered, make some noise. If you know of an area where bears are known to feed, don’t go there.

If we want to eliminate every bear we see, we won’t be seeing them for long.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal