Pet bears are not cuddly

One Man's Opinion
By Doug Collins
July 25, 2017 - 6:00am

KAMLOOPS — It seems so sweet on the surface that residents of Barnhartvale have their own pet bear. He even has a name. Residents have taken to calling him Harold. It sounds so cute, having this bear wandering around the neighbourhood, just like a pet dog.

But it really isn’t sweet, and it isn’t really cute. Wild animals need to be contained, and relocated so they don’t create problems for people living in close proximity to them. I’ve heard all the arguments about these kinds of things: “Oh, isn’t he cute.” “We don’t want to call Conservation because we don’t want him put down.” “He has never shown any kind of aggression.”

I want to say here and now that those animals aren’t cute and cuddly. They are wild animals, and they can show aggression at any time. You don’t know what will scare them, and what will aggravate them to the point they attack. Sometimes there appears to be one bear, but it has cubs nearby and if you go too close, that bear will attack to protect her young. Young kids sometimes think it’s fun to tease these animals, by throwing rocks or sticks, or finding some other way to get them riled. You do not want to have those teeth and claws in close proximity to you. They are serious weapons.

Conservation Officers have many stories about bears that have become enraged, and attacked people who didn’t expect it to happen. And what if you have one in your neighbourhood, you don’t deal with it, and some youngster gets killed? Now how do you feel?

I understand we don’t want to have these animals put down unnecessarily, and if they can be relocated, fine. And in some really rural areas, bears and other wild animals are a fact of life. And as long as they don’t become too “citified," they often will retreat back into their normal habitat. But in more highly populated areas, they are a problem if they start getting too well acquainted with their human neighbours. Don’t want to spoil the fun. But there is a place for bears, and it’s not wandering down your street where they can become not just a nuisance, but a real danger.