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OPINION: Bill Walton, Animal Thoughts

Go, Bruins, Go! – No, Don, not those Bruins . . .
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20170925 bbear walton

We had a cub bear in our yard recently, sniffing around for food in case the squirrels or crows had dropped something on the ground. (Not the bear pictured above – that was an older one a couple of years ago). The wee fellow paid no attention to my goldfish in the pond although they might have made an appetizer for the young bear. He eventually went further down into the subdivision – against my advice – looking for food. I waited for the police car siren but this time apparently the Ministry responded and caught the young bear.

The file on bear cub # BB2017-127 likely says that it was transported far from the city to a remote area on a forest access road near Tilden Lake. Case closed. But not for the bear cub. Still recovering from the tranquilizer, the cub found himself in a strange area (the forest all looks the same to us) with danger on all sides. Was he in another bear’s domain? Would a huge boar bear kill him or leave him alone? Was there a wolf pack nearby? Were there humans with those darts nearby? Was there any food? Where would he sleep that night? Did the cub know when and how to den for the coming winter or would the inexperienced bruin starve and freeze to death?

My source at the Ministry said they had no answers for any of the above. They just dropped the bear off far enough away so it would not come back to the City. That hardly seemed humane but calling the Humane Society would have had no better a result: they have enough problems with domestic cats and dogs.

As uncomfortable as those thoughts were, I recalled all the concern for abandoned pets during the hurricanes down south. I rationalized that there were so many pet dogs and cats in the world that this was of little concern as far as the survival of the species.  Then I thought about all the ‘wild’ critters on those islands that were almost obliterated by the hurricanes. It seemed amazing how many people survived the devastation shown on TV, but I wonder what happened to the birds, bees, butterflies, amphibians, and other little creatures in the face of 200 kph winds and drowning downpours.

Humans will rebuild their houses and resorts in a few years. But how long will it take for the natural flora and fauna to recover on those islands in the sun? Mind you, this would not be the first time those islands have been swept clean by a storm but the environment has changed over the years, mostly in favour of humans and not our other inhabitants of planet earth.

It is unfortunate that we can’t just push a magic button that tells the bears (and humans) to get along and co-habit in the cities. Heaven knows there is enough garbage in our cities to feed any number of bears as well as the raccoons, skunks, and rats. Maybe we could even ask them to not make a mess of the garbage cans and put back all the plastics and cans after they have licked them clean. And if they wanted to take some cardboard to line their dens, feel free.

Of course, none of this will happen. In the meantime we get messages about not putting our garbage out overnight; not feeding the birds (although I can’t imagine how any bear could reach my hummingbird feeder) and keeping our little yappy dogs indoors so they don’t aggravate the bruins and become a snack. All well and good, but that little cub that went through our yard stopped and ate some grass and bit the top off one of my coneflowers. Please, please don’t tell me to stop planting flowers in the spring because the bears might eat them. Already the deer eat my hostas and tulips.

I wish that little cub well in his new home at Tilden Lake. There might even be a few empty summer cottages around to check out – under a porch might be a place for a winter’s den. Just sayin’.



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