By Camille Aubin
camille@columbiavalleypioneer.com

We live in the territory of magnificent wildlife; we should be as respectful as a guest in someone else’s place. More often than not, we forget about this. We behave like we own this place, this valley, and we don’t think twice about any repercussions our actions might have on wildlife. We should feel lucky enough to live here in this beautiful area surrendered by nature and all the species that enjoy the same fresh air as us.

In the Pioneer’s Nov. 12 issue, Invermere mayor Al Miller, spoke about the new residential garbage bins, “these (heavy steel fabricated containers) are very, very, very expensive. I imagine most residents would be pretty unhappy at paying the bills involved in getting those. And they would not be easily transportable, not by any stretch.” If we cannot afford this protection to our wildlife, what can we do, as a community, that is cost-efficient, so wildlife doesn’t have to pay the ultimate sacrifice?

Did we think further than the cost of an appropriate system? Did we think about the repercussion on us, on our safety? But most importantly, did we consider the harmful side effect on the bear life or any wildlife. Not reflecting on this is an easy way to forget about this problem, our problem, and put it on the bears shoulder.

If, as a community, we are unhappy to invest in adequate containers to keep the wildlife wild, we must act and compensate for that. How? Corinna Strauss, WildSafe BC Columbia Valley community coordinator, advised us, in that same issue, to put our garbage bin in a place where the animals cannot reach it.

Advice might not be powerful enough. We must keep our garbage out of the way. It should already be done by now. Look around town, and you will see black bins standing in front of the main door of many residencies.

So, what happens to a bear that keeps coming back for our trash once the animal understands how to crack it? We will most likely relocate him or even kill him, if he shows behaviour that he has become too familiar with humans. We can do this. We own this place.

Maybe a solution is to put a bylaw­ in place to persuade people to act, as the recommendation doesn’t go far enough. Just like the B.C. government, which has just made medical masks mandatory, we must act and change our habits with a sense of urgency. Keeping bears wild should bring the same feeling of seriousness.

We must act now. It is a critical period for us, and for them.