Friday, May 30, 2008

Black Bears in Timmins are a people problem...

The local committee responsible for managing the black bear situation in Timmins told the media yesterday there is a “people problem” in Timmins, not a black bear problem.
The comments came while the committee was outlining its plans for the 2008 “to promote black bear awareness, education and conflict prevention” in Timmins.
Much of the program is based on the Ministry of Natural Resources Bear Wise program, an initiative launched in 2004 in response to growing complaints about nuisance bears.
The Times asked if this meant that the MNR regarded the bear situation as “a problem” since it had undertaken so many education and prevention procedures in recent years.
“We have a people problem,” said committee spokesman Ben Legouffe, an information officer with the MNR.
“Is this a bear problem or a people problem? If you educate the people, you won’t have a bear problem,” Legouffe added.
“We do live in bear country. You have to respect that and educate the people and say this is what you should do. If you don’t do it, it could happen you’re going to have a bear visit you.”
This includes things such as cleaning your backyard barbecue right after you use it, picking up the fruit that falls from fruit trees and not putting pet food outside.
This is the fifth year for the continuing Bear Wise program in Timmins and Legouffe says he has seen progress. He says he believes more and more residents are into the idea that it’s a worthwhile program.
“There’s the three types of people. There’s some that get on to the program. They really want it. Others take it with a grain of salt and you have a small minority, their answer is to shoot all the bears. You have those three types of people, but I think the first group is growing,” said Legouffe.
He added that he has 35 years of experience with the MNR and he disputed the notion that the black bear situation got worse after 1999 when the spring bear hunt was cancelled.
“I remember the 70s and the 80s where the COs (conservation officers) were run off their feet 24 hours a day, bringing those bears back into the bush, or shooting them. We had bad years. We had bad berry crops,” he said.
Legouffe added that Timmins has grown, in area, in recent years and is stretched out in a linear fashion following Highway 101, and is completely surrounded by forest.
“We say we love it in the north, we’re with the wildlife, living in the forest and isn’t it great. Well, there is a price for that. And the price is we have to respect the animals and the birds and what-have-you that live with us. And if we don’t take that attitude, well yeah we won’t have this great North to enjoy anymore because it won’t be there.” Legouffe said.
As part of the education program the MNR will be handing out jingle-style “bear bells” to youngsters.
Legouffe also mentioned that Timmins Police will have a ride-along program with MNR staff and city bylaw officers to ensure that city residents do not put their weekly garbage out to the curbside the night before garbage day.
“We’re gonna get a little more aggressive on that,” Legouffe added.,
City officials did admit that garbage may be put out to the curb after 8:00 p.m., the night before garbage pickup day, provided the garbage is in a proper garbage bin with a snap lock top.

1 comment:

hogiel said...

I think 2 methods of thinking have to happen. First and foremost...bring back the spring hunt. Second..there are some good bear proof garbage cans out there and the comapny I found is actually 100%Canadian! If we bring back the hunt and properly "manage" bear populations and also take away food like garbage by securing it...then the bears will learn to just stay away from us and our waste and we can all live harmoniously.