EDITORIAL: Bears need us to behave better

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If you believe what you see on Facebook – and when is it ever wrong? – bears are running wild in Hay River this summer.

Although come to think of it, since bears are wildlife, they can do nothing except run wild. But that’s another issue.

There certainly seems to be a general perception in town that there are more than a usual number of bears in the community this year.

However, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) as reported in this edition of The Hub, there might not really be more bears around, just a few of the animals that are being seen more often.

Whether or not there are actually more bears in town, ENR did give one unfortunate solid number. Wildlife officers had to destroy two bears recently in Hay River after they started to eat garbage.

While that is unfortunate, it is understandable. We accept ENR’s explanation why some bears need to be destroyed. Once they become accustomed to eating garbage, they will be returning for that easy supply of food, and they therefore become an increased danger to people.

What we don’t understand is why there is garbage left around to attract bears to this community in the first place.

Humans are arguably the more intelligent beings in this problem, so it is up to us to find the solution. We cannot depend on bears to hold a bears-only meeting to spread the word that they should stay out of residential garbage for their own safety.

All of us have to take more care with our garbage to make sure that it does not become an attractor for bears.

It is really not that hard to do. Keep garbage away from bears – preferably in a garage or some other building – until it is time to put it on a curb for pickup. That does not seem to be too much to ask of people.

It is a simple solution to the problem, but some people seem to be ignoring it. And that is something we cannot understand.

It is obviously a mutually beneficial thing for people to take better care of their garbage. The bears get to survive on their natural foods, and avoid the possibility of having to be destroyed for eating garbage. At the same time, community residents are safer. A win-win solution if there ever was one.

Bears are dangerous enough without our own actions making them more dangerous. That is just simply illogical.

There is also one other reason why we should be doing everything in our power to protect bears.

We are the intruders – the guests, if you wish – in bear country. They were here long before us, and it seems only right and proper that we behave like good guests and do everything we can to protect bears and other wildlife.

For us to have bears destroyed because of how we handle our garbage is just unacceptable.

That is not being good guests in the middle of the wilderness.

Rather, some of us are being careless and dangerous intruders.