Cameron Orr, Interior News
Bears are the culprits in a tragic death in Lillooet where a woman was mauled and partially eaten last week.
It’s a grim tale and the only silver lining to the whole thing is that it’s still the exception rather than the rule that bears will actively attack humans.
The possibility for bear attacks is quite real in all parts of B.C., ours included. We’re smack in the middle of bear country, just like the poor woman who was killed in Lillooet.
However events like these will always draw critics, particularly to online news comment sections.
I want to make it clear that I don’t like the idea of bears being killed, and I hope no one else does. It’s true, humans are the ones encroaching onto their habitat. Why should bears pay the price for our ‘invasion’?
On the other hand, as a matter of self-preservation, it has to be a them-or-us scenario and the occasional bear kill, while sad, is needed to protect the greater community.
On the Terrace Standard’s website, a sister publication of The Interior News, people were filing their thoughts in the comment section on a story about some grizzlies who were put down between Terrace and Kitimat. One person wrote “it should have been the people getting into trouble,” amidst other comments in a similar vein.
The bears, it was reported, had been opening coolers and showing signs of habituation due to public interaction.
When bears stop fearing humans, it becomes a lot easier for them to start turning aggressive, instead of just being the fuzzy animals we see from a short distance.
Comments on the Vancouver Sun website on the Lilloeet mauling go along the same lines. One person said the killing of nearby black bears on suspicion of involvment is “senseless and ignorantly vengeful.”
The fact of the matter is a woman was killed by a bear and chances were good that it was one of the ones conservation officers killed. If a family of bruins starts getting a taste for human flesh, you shouldn’t wait until there’s another victim before acting.
The final backgrounder to all this is a story I wrote once in Kitimat, about a bear who wandered in — physically opening the door — to a Subway restaurant. The bear was put down.
Same idea there. When a bear not only loses its fear of humans and human dwellings, but figures out how to actually open doors, it has become dangerous.
Humans, certainly, need to go a long way to not disturbing the natural order of things in the animal kingdom, but doing nothing when animals become dangerous is irresponsible to the community.