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.

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