Bear killings spark widespread outrage
Published Sunday, August 16, 2009 12:19PM MDT
It is believed to be one of the largest controlled killings of bears in Alberta and while the province says it was necessary to kill 12 black bears near Conklin earlier this week, many Albertans say the deaths were senseless and could have been avoided.
"I think it's a shame," said Edmontonian Robert McNaughton. "I think we should look after our animals a little better than we're doing."
Government officials said the decision to kill 12 black bear on Aug. 11 was made to protect the public after the bears were seen hanging around a landfill near Conklin, Alta. looking for food. The dump reportedly had improper fencing, which may have allowed people to get in and feed the hungry bears.
CTV News has received several phone calls and messages from viewers who believe the killings were an extreme action. One Albertan who owns a veterinarian clinic with her husband says she's had to put down animals before, but she says the province acted far too aggressively.
"If you end up with a bunch of bears causing problems for a whole bunch of people you have to take steps, but I don't think the first step should have been this," said Strathcona County vet clinic owner Ana Lori Briggs.
Many are also quick to point out that the landfill the bears were frequenting did not have proper fencing to keep them out. One wildlife author who has written about the issue says a fence could have prevented the cull.
"This is just a cheap short term reaction to the problem in my opinion and it if needs more thought, more care, and definitely a more humane attitude," said author Sid Harty during a phone interview from his home in southern Alberta.
Wood Buffalo councillor Gordon Janvier says a fence wasn't built at the landfill because of fears it would trap the bears inside. However, Janvier says the cull has many reconsidering a fence, even though the dump is slated to close next year.
"If fencing is the problem that's something we have to look at," said Janvier.
The province, however, is not making an concessions. Wildlife officers defend their actions saying trapping and relocating the bears was not an option.
"If this case if we were to relocate them they've been habituated to that source of food, they would simply return," said Sustainable Resource Development officer Darcy Whiteside.
While the province continues to defend its actions, many fear the situation will only repeat itself if officials don't invest some time into developing less aggressive strategies.
"I don't know what the answer is, it's not my job, but it's somebody's job to know what the answer is and this isn't it," said Briggs.
With files from Scott Roberts