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September 5, 2016

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear.

Last week, two men were fined $375 each for feeding a wild, black bear in Tofino, British Columbia after the video they had taken and posted to the internet became viral.

The video shows a man feeding a young, black bear a rice cake, and although I can agree on the cuteness of this majestic and powerful animal, many people have argued that the bear is now as good as dead.

Why do humans believe it is our right to manipulate and control nature as much as we do?

Newsflash: We share this earth with many other beings besides humans and to believe that it is our birthright to decide how these animals live is ignorant and sad.

The feeding of wildlife is illegal here in Canada, and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Unfortunately, if animals become reliant on human food, they will approach humans more often. This leads, in cases like this, to the relocation of the bears, or in many instances, the “destruction” of a bear.

The word destroy, when it comes to animals, has always bothered me. A better word, murder, which more accurately describes the action, sounds harsh for many people who believe that this practice is just trying to protect our community. I get that, but it only distracts from the facts. Destroying implies an act done to a thing, not a being. It creates a bigger separation and disconnect between us.

The reality is–-they deserve to live on this planet as much as we do.

Our society has become disconnected with our natural state of feeling, and being present with, nature. We don’t understand boundaries; we lose our senses and decide to follow animals, feed them, pet them, or even take a selfie with them.

Here in the internet age, people are constantly doing stupid stuff to try to be popular. There is a constant search for fame.

The protection of bears has become a passion for me since I moved to the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada. I am now living in a small town where the possibility of encountering bears is much higher than in the city. The thing is, with a lot of small towns like mine, there is a constant need to expand. We are expanding onto the bear’s territory, and in turn they have fewer places to go and it becomes more likely that they’ll step into town in search for food.

We cannot blame them and punish them for our behaviour. It is not their fault; it is ours.

If we learn to protect ourselves and take responsibility for the way we act, we in turn help bears, and countless other animals, too.

Here is a list of guidelines set out by the Government of British Columbia to help avoid encounters with bears: 

>>Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife.

>> Reduce or eliminate odours that attract bears. At the campground, store food in air-tight containers in your RV or car trunk.

>>Bear caches must be used if they are available at the park.

>>Pack out all your garbage. Store garbage with your food, out of reach of bears. Do not bury garbage or throw it into pit toilets. Only paper and wood may be burned: plastics, tinfoil, and food items do not burn completely and the remains will attract bears (besides creating an unsightly mess). Storing garbage in bear-proof containers is recommended.

>>Cook and eat well away from your tent.

>>Clean up immediately and thoroughly. Never leave cooking utensils, coolers, grease or dish water lying around. Dispose of dish water by straining it and then throwing it into a gray water pit or pit toilet. Solids should be packed out with the garbage.

>>The odours of cosmetics, toothpaste and insect repellent can attract bears. These should be stored out of reach with your food and garbage, never in your tent. Leave strongly perfumed items at home.

>>Obey all closures and warnings.

These animals deserve a chance to live, and we must fight for their protection and rights.

~

Author: Pauline Holden

Image: Author’s Own

Editor: Travis May

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Pauline Holden