hich is worse?
The growl of a black bear foraging for food, or the stench, and disgusting sight, of a moose carcass rotting by the highway. These are just two of the problems now facing Northerners.
Who is responsible for removing dead carcasses? Who is responsible for capturing hungry bears? Why isn't there a clear-cut policy? Many angry Northerners are asking these questions. They are angry, and
frequently frightened by the very large number of bear sightings in towns and villages.
That's right--IN towns and villages. It is downright scary to see a huge black bear in your garden, or on your street. It is terrifying for every parent, when bears wander into a school playground. It is infuriating
when a school principal calls for help, and cannot get immediate action.
Which is what happened when the principal of the Temagami public school, called the Ministry of Natural Resources for help. A mother bear and two cubs, presumably searching for garbage, had invaded the playground.
The MNR said call the OPP. The OPP said call the MNR. Eventually the town clerk grabbed his rifle and went to the school, but the bears had gone.
The OPP stationed a guard, and a bear came back. But the officer did not shoot because the bear was no immediate threat, and many children were watching.
There are similar stories all over the North. Bears in Kapuskasing. Bears in Timmins, where local trappers have caught several, and taken them far out of town. But they usually return, because bears are territorial. Dump a trapped bear fifty miles from town, and the local boss bear chases it
Bears are not usually aggressive, unless you get between a mother and cubs. But near Chapleau, a female tree planter was attacked and bitten by a bear. A fellow worker beat it off with a shovel, and they ran for their lives. .
The bear population seems to be exploding. There has been no spring bear hunt for two years. Bears have no natural predators, except old age and disease. Less hunting means more bears competing for food. Something the government did not consider when it banned the hunt.
The MNR used to capture stray bears. But now it is just as hungry for money, as bears are for food. It has downloaded responsibility upon the rest of society.
The police are in a difficult position. They are not trained to arrest bears. And if they do shoot a bear, they are savagely criticised by animal
The MNR has also downloaded responsibility for removing dead moose. A moose killed by a transport near Matachewan rotted for two weeks because no one would act. In the French River area, three men found a dead moose floating in a lake near a beach used for swimming, and supplying water.
The MNR would not help, so they put Vicks under their noses, and dragged the rank carcass into the bush. Perhaps all this is part of tourist promotion. Go and see Northerners running for their lives. Enjoy real bear country. But don't breath too deeply, the smell may disgust you.
((This commentary originated with CBC Radio))