Words by Bear Smart Director Sylvia Dolson, FOB (friend-of-the-bears). Photo credits: Get Bear Smart Society.
Whistler’s bears are not tame bears. They are once wild bears whose response to a repeated neutral stimulus – us – has diminished their wildness over time. Why? Because there’s just a lot of us around and it just takes less energy for animals to ignore non-threats than to run away or climb a tree every time they encounter us.
This form of acclimation, human-to-bear can be tricky: it’s easy for us to get a little too comfy around acclimated bears, which can lead to carelessness. Especially if you’re one person is a crowd, in say, the middle of the Village, in the dark at 2 am, with a possibility of alcohol involvement .While there’s strength in numbers, your group may still be at a disadvantage. And while, no one has ever been seriously hurt by a bear, even in these exact circumstances, the bear’s life is almost always cut short.
Another way to be careless around our bears is to distance yourself from the setting with a camera lens and forget that yes, it’s actually you sitting there in front of a wild animal. It’s a good idea to keep your distance from all bears – acclimated or not. And it’s an even better idea not to let your dog chase bears and get into it with them. Dogs have been injured by bears, and people have ended up with stitches because they tried to get in between the bear and their dog. Bad situation all around.
All that said, the real game changer – in terms of the human relationship to bears – is actually providing bears access to human food and garbage sources. Human-food-conditioning creates HUGE problems – more so for bears than people, because the bears end of dead. There is also the likelihood of property damage when you start making your property attractive to bears. Once bears get comfortable seeking food from people they will go to greater and greater lengths to get access. It might very well be amusing to watch Mr. Bear at your bird feeder performing circus tricks, but it may not be so amusing when you find him emptying your kitchen cupboards.
It’s a game you don’t want to begin. And puleease….. if you’re only here for a short time, don’t leave your legacy behind for the local people to live with and the bears to die by.
Do your homework. Learn how to live in harmony with bears in your community.
Here are a few tips that will help:
Do not allow bears access to your garbage.
Check your property for other bear attractants
Learn more about bear behaviour and the true nature of bears
Article source: http://www.whistlerisawesome.com/2013/04/28/living-with-bears/