To the editor,
Much has been said and written about black bears in our communities recently. An article that appeared in the Cowichan Valley Citizen in January was about a Duncan family who discovered a black bear living under their porch. Indeed, such is a reminder of how closely we live to wildlife, very often without even realizing it. Locally we learned (and saw with our own eyes) that the summer and fall of 2023 was unprecedented for the number of black bears in our neighbourhoods – all looking for food, of course.
The reason for this was apparently the droughty conditions that resulted in a lack of late summer food for the bears, such as berries, and also the decline of fish. A second article written in the same edition of that newspaper revealed an additional pressure being experienced by the bears – that is, the lack of dens. The wildlife biologist interviewed for the story explained that there is a loss of denning habitat the bears need because black bears typically den in large, hollow tree trunks and stumps, but with the ever decreasing number of these trees available to the bears, they are becoming more likely to substitute in any way they can.
While I feel that the biologist’s report is truly a disappointing sign of the times, at least the bear-under-the-porch that was the catalyst for the Duncan story survived its ordeal of being discovered and chased away by a conservation officer.
The outcome was much less fortunate for a small black bear cub that was spotted on the highway near Deep Bay in late December and was shot. It seems we’re always hearing how much conservation officers hate to ‘put down’ bears, but the increase in black bear deaths at the hands of the BCCOS has been alarming. A Globe and Mail report stated that just by the end of November last year a record number of 598 bears had already been killed in B.C. by COs.
It’s my opinion that this reflects very poorly on how our province perceives and values wildlife, and it certainly highlights the need for a more compassionate and considerate approach to the hungry and desperate black bears that we are seeing evermore in our communities.
Jacqueline Sherk, Lake Cowichan
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