By Letter to the Editor on August 28, 2020.
As an avid wildlife observer I was dismayed by the decision of park officials to destroy a young black bear classified as a “risk to the public” despite the fact the bear was “conditioned” by the public. Ironically, the public are the “risk” to the wildlife that habitat within the national parks.
The show of ignorance by the public visiting parks is shameful and despicable. I have witnessed a man removing dentures from his mouth and rinsing them in the children’s water park in Waterton; an individual throwing out garbage from a moving vehicle in the Red Rock Canyon/Crandell area; cigarette butts along the lake shoreline; dog excrement and garbage on trails; paper towels strewn in public washrooms; deer being hand-fed ice cream; and currently, a young black bear destroyed due to inconsiderate, selfish people feeding the bear and leaving garbage uncontained, not disposed of in waste receptacles.
Park officials should be focusing their attention on protecting the wildlife and preservation of the parks through monitoring inappropriate behaviour, law enforcement with strict and harsh fines. Law enforcement is particularly significant due to increased wildlife in close proximity of the townsite due to forest fires and an influx of ignorance from people visiting the park. Alberta should adopt the Rebeka Breder law from B.C. which “acts exclusively for advancing the rights and welfare of animals both domestic and wildlife.” If people cannot respect and preserve nature, they should not be given the privilege of witnessing raw nature in its beauty and splendour.
The decision to destroy the young bear was inconsiderate and unacceptable. The bear could have easily been relocated to one of 21,324 mountains that exist in Canada.
In summary, wildlife should not suffer due to the lack of consideration and integrity of humans. Humans forget too easily that the national parks are the habitat of wildlife and we are infringing on their territory. I may be only one voice, but I am the voice of all that is “supposed” to be wild and free.