An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
AT THIS WRITING, the fate of the mother bear and her two cubs wandering around Kamloops is uncertain. Hopefully, they’ve found their way back into the mountains.
It’s entirely possible, of course, that they’ve met their demise at the end of a Conservation Officer’s rifle.
If it’s the latter, at least they were given a fair chance. I wrote not long ago that people are sometimes reluctant to contact COs when bears show up because they fear the animals will be executed.
Certainly, public safety is paramount but COs have a reputation, earned or not, of using their weapons as a first rather than last resort.
These latest wandering bears, though, are an example of the way it should be done. Rather than promptly dispatching them, authorities have done everything possible to help them out.
McArthur Island Park was shut down Monday after the bears were seen there. The mother and cubs made their way to Schubert Drive, then were spotted near Arthur Hatton elementary school. Yesterday, they showed up in the area between Pioneer and Riverside Parks, prompting another park closure.
How did they get there? Was one cub missing? Was it lost in the swim across the river? Everybody’s been pulling for them.
What’s kind of neat is that the City went to social media right at the start to post updates on their whereabouts.
If the bears had simply been shot, there would have been a short news story and that would have been all. By giving them their space and keeping the public well informed, the City, Conservation Service and WildSafe BC created an opportunity to educate the public on bear-human interactions in a way they could never have done otherwise.
It’s been a four-day teachable moment.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.