The white bear that has found it’s way back to Elkford after being relocated is proof that relocation just doesn’t work.
Conservation officers are frequently accused of being “trigger happy” and people say they don’t want to report seeing a bear in town because they know the conservation officer will just shoot it. But the fact is, they don’t really have much choice. The only reason these two white bears were given a second chance was because they are white coloured – they’re just a bit special. But even special bears won’t get third chances. She’s back to Elkford and back to her old tricks – hanging out and going through the garbage.
It makes sense that bears don’t welcome being picked up and dumped in a foreign area, and expected to just make their home there. How would you feel? If one day somebody picked you up and dropped you off somewhere in Alberta – you’d want to find your way home too. It’s actually surprising it took her so long to come back to Elkford.
And just moving them isn’t going to change their behaviours. Once they have learned about the buffet of food scraps they can find in those garbage cans, they aren’t going to go back to picking berries. So even if they don’t find their way back to the town they were moved from, chances are they will wander off to another town and start looking for garbage cans there.
For this little white bear, it’s not looking good. Chances are she will keep hanging out around the garbage cans until a conservation officer puts an end to her life. So unfair – she didn’t do anything wrong. She wasn’t aggressive. She just found food when she was hungry. If it was right there in front of you, and you were hungry, you wouldn’t turn away and head into the woods to find berries like you’ve been told to do.
Now is a crucial time to prevent another tragic bear story. Secure your garbage. Don’t put it out the night before collection. Wait until the morning. It only takes a few garbage cans left out for bears to discover this food source and then the addiction will kill them.
Luckily, there haven’t been many bears in town this summer because there has been an excellent berry crop in the mountains. But now is when they might start wandering down into town. Don’t be complacent. Do the right thing.