A community action campaign to save the white bears is underway in Elkford. Hosted by the District of Elkford, a meeting attended by District staff, councillors, Elk Valley Bear Aware Coordinator, Elk Valley RCMP and concerned citizens was held at Council Chambers, Thursday.
“We need to get the message out and get the community involved,” said Chief Administrative Officer Corien Speaker. She said the white bears risk being destroyed if the animals continue to access residential garbage and pose a threat to homeowners. “We need to encourage those responsible to secure food and garbage.”
Given the current status of the white bear family being habituated in the community since the summer or even early spring, the consensus is to find a quick remedy of removal and relocating the mother, two white cubs and a black cub to another location before winter sets in and without resorting to destroying them. But on hand, there is the dilemma of educating residents to take proactive steps to minimize bear interaction in the community. However for the program to work and with the help of volunteers, District of Elkford is having a “bear aware” information booth set up at the mall, brochures and posters printed up and a Facebook listing to inform the public of bear awareness and urging all residents to be more diligent and responsible about garbage control and organic waste to reduce the impact of bear contact.
“There’s all kinds of things we could do,” said Speaker. “If we don’t we are going to lose the bears.”
While the bear family has travelled from north of town to almost every corner of the neighbourhoods, uptown areas of Cherokee Drive, Cariboo Drive and Casino Crescent have been their favourite hangouts. Why they have chosen that location is not clear. Maybe houses on a hill, grassy knolls, greenbelt or friendly neighbours, but for safety sake, close proximity contact with homeowners is a concern, therefore a campaign to inform the public was initiated to try and resolve the matter.
“We are going to get the kids going door to door to deliver a simple straight forward message,” said Councillor Walter Conibear of the grade six students who will target the residential neighbourhoods where the bear hot spots are. “We are going to try and get people involved and hopefully get them to take care of garbage and edibles.”
As the slogan says: a fed bear is a dead bear. Conibear is hopeful that the public will respond to the campaign efforts and take responsibility and ownership to keep the bears at bay. In the interim, he wants to have the bears scared off or trapped and relocated by the Conservation Officer.
Likewise, RCMP Richard Christy and Bear Aware Coordinator Jutta Kolhi both agree that residents should report a bear sighting immediately to the Bear Aware 24 hours hotline – 1-877-952-7277 or www.bearware.bc.ca.
A follow up meeting is slated for November 1 at 6 p.m. at Council Chambers.
By Eriki Filipe