EDITORIAL – Saga of wandering bear family provides teachable moment

(Image: WildSafe BC)

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 opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8563 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Saga of wandering bear family provides teachable moment

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment.

    When we learn that we can, safely and cooperatively, share the land with other species and that we both learn and grow from each interaction, we move backward from our unfortunate role as an “alpha predator”. The people’s who inhabited this land long, long, before our arrival knew and honoured this truth.

  2. Shirley Sanderson // August 22, 2019 at 6:26 AM // Reply

    I am heartened to read of this behaviour when an element of nature crossed the line.
    When I entered the Chilkoot Park (4 years ago) to “do the Chilkoot Pass” I read a bulletin advising the Pass had just been reopened after a four-day closure…a bear had been sighted In the area. The Pass was closed to tourists, trekkers, until the bear moved out of the area. It costs a lot of money to get to Skagway with the gear needed to make the trek but, the ecosystem was, is, paramount. Tourists, come back another year.
    We live in one of the last natural predator/prey ecosystems “in the world” (here on the perimeter, north to the Yukon). We need to honour that, to husband that with abandon. After one retires and begins to “travel the world” you begin to see …. the rest of the world dos NOT have what we have. Truly.

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