Bears are difficult for me to photograph when I come across them. Difficult because they strike on a primal fear that I have to intellectualize past. This kind of gets in the way of things like having quick reaction on the camera controls, setting up the photo's composition...planning my path of retreat first tends to take priority and remains an ever constant thought. Because of this I am unlikely to ever get a good photograph of a bear without a really long zoom lens because large wild animals and people in close proximity simply don't mix.

I was reading in the Merritt News yesterday that a bear had to be shot last week- only the second one of the year. According to the conservation officer this is a very low number for this area. Merritt is surrounded by hills, mountains, and grasslands for many kilometers and part of the community backs right against the wilderness. Many residents have fruit trees in their yards and are in the midst of cleaning up their gardens so one would think that this is a tempting place for a bear to come...until you read a bit more and realize that wild food sources have been very plentiful in our region and that people are taking more responsibility in keeping their properties clear of edible attractants. The Bear Aware campaign has no doubt helped make people realize that bears are opportunistic creatures that will take advantage of people's bad habits- they will get into garbage containers placed out over night or root around the apples that start to rot on the ground which bears find very easily by smell. People are taking more precautions for the practical reason of safety.

This is in sharp contrast to the story that I read in the Vancouver province where one bear in particular had to be caught in a trap and then shot. The town of Whistler which is also located in a heavily mountainous area has no doubt always dealt with roving black bears in and around the community and this bear in particular for 15 to 20 years. I can't understand why food garbage on the scale that wealthy tourism-based Whistler must produce is handled in the same way as a community in the lower mainland.
Why can't they remove and relocate the green waste they produce on a daily basis to a remote location instead of doing this to the problem bears? Green waste can actually be part of a composting campaign but a bear will just come back unless you take it really far away where it may well die because it can't locate food.

A small town in the interior does not produce so much food waste and is far less likely to have maudlin ideas about dangerous wild animals. Hunting is part of what keeps the bear numbers down and the less encumbered management of bears which seems to be another problem closer to large urban areas. It is disgusting to read online comments made by ignorant people who know nothing about wildlife or conservation yet viciously attack the conservation officers who actually have to deal with the problem.

 In my opinion if people want to see and photograph wildlife they should go into the wilds to do so- not take advantage of an animals natural tendencies to scavenge for garbage and certainly not to take advantage of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and it's resources.


Falls Lake

I was missing the green-ness of home when I suggested to my husband and brother-in-law that we check out Falls Lake. This is a tiny little lake located within the Coqhihalla Summit Recreation Area. While I would like to have explored more of the park we came rather late in the afternoon of a sunny weekend. It was distinctly cooler and damper in this area compared to Merritt which lies within the southern interior bio-climatic zone. Forests of fir, cedar and pines cover the mountains and I saw wild blueberry among other plants.

The hike in is a kilometer and a half mostly uphill but nothing strenuous. It opened out onto a shore that had small boat access and plenty of room to set up a tent although there are no facilities. The water was alive with little trout coming up for whatever was landing on the water and I imagine the deeper part of the lake holds good sized fish.

It was a nice break from the usual brilliant sunshine of the Nicola Valley and I had to remind myself that one of the best reasons for living in Merritt was because of the absence of such a forceful and damp atmosphere as Falls Lake. It is almost typical of the brooding, misty feeling of the west coast tucked away into the mountains until the sun breaks out and makes it look like there should be a summer camp on the far shore!

To get there you drive to the Falls Lake turnoff which is located midway between Hope and Merritt, B.C. The road in goes for about a kilometer west and from there on you walk in. The Coqhihalla Summit Recreation Area itself is open to fishing, hunting, hiking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. It is a very historic area as remnants of the Kettle Valley Railway which operated from the 1900's to the 60'd can still be found here.
We concluded our day with a stop at Kingsvale which is located on the Coldwater Road coming into Merritt. Kingsvale appears to have been a small community that established itself along the Kettle Valley Railway. There is one very old but well preserved building beside the road and remains of a bridge and a few smaller structures.