Maybe now we’re getting somewhere . . .
For many people, the notion that ‘problems’ with wildlife in the Bow Valley stem from problems with people in the Bow Valley won’t come as a surprise.
For others, the fact there are human/wildlife issues in our valley is a given, given the growing number of people living, recreating, visiting and generally enjoying this valley we share with wildlife of all kinds.
It’s unfortunate it took the death of bear 148 to highlight the issue, but in the summer of 2017, area closures of trails, of the Quarry Lake area at one point, and the fact people ignored closure signs and tape – all contributed to the feeling that something had to be done.
Possibly, 148’s controversial relocation and subsequent shooting by a hunter in B.C. was the straw that broke the camel’s back of outrage, so to speak.
There were those who lashed out at individuals sporting a not-uncommon attitude of entitlement who refused to stay off and out of closed areas and trails. There were those who believed wildlife managers were too slow, or too unwilling to close trails and areas when bears were present – possibly assuming that not enough was done, closure-wise, simply to keep tourists happy (to paraphrase Amity’s Mayor Vaughn in Jaws, This is a summer town, chief, we can’t close the beaches).
There were those angered by 148’s relocation, believing that we must share our space with wildlife and therefore be willing to accept the concept of closures.
Through the summer of ‘17, with bear 148 making appearances in both Banff and Canmore as she travelled the valley, there were those who refused to keep dogs on leash, rode bikes or walked past closure signs, and generally took an ‘oh well’ attitude toward bear presence.
There are also those who can only shake their heads in wonder at people, sometimes with toddlers in tow or children on bikes, who will voluntarily take their lives in their own hands by entering closed areas and/or trails – assuming, we suppose, that by the time they cross the tape, a bear has moved on?
Bears, of course, can be anywhere, at any time, in our valley.
Study after study (including remote camera imaging), though, shows people are recreating in greater numbers than ever before in this area, including in wildlife corridors.
Our wildlife, therefore, can rarely catch a break and be insulated from human traffic.
So finally, it’s good to see 28 recommendations from a human-wildlife coexistence committee that highlights the issues of human presence, lack of enforcement, habitat security, all manner of closures and wildlife corridor restoration as critical to the survival of wildlife in this valley.
In this same space, we’ve commented on the entitled attitude of far too many recreationalists, the lack of enforcement (off leash dogs everywhere, along with human traffic in corridors) and the dire need to keep at least portions of the valley wild.
Now all that’s needed is implementation, money from the Province for increased staff and, most difficult of all we’re certain, a change in mindset by those who believe being in the outdoors is a right, rather than a privilege.
In the end, keeping wildlife wild is a responsibility that everyone, locals and visitors alike, must embrace.