Don’t feed the bears — even if they’re cute

It’s a baby, so yes, it’s cute, but it’s also a bear.

It’s a baby, so yes, it’s cute, but it’s also a bear.

We cannot emphasize enough how important this distinction is. There are kittens, puppies, kids (baby goats), lambs and even chicks. Then there are bears, fawns, seals, and elk calfs.

The former group does best when you take them into your home (or barn) and feed and love them. The latter group does best when you leave them alone in their original wild habitat — or leave them alone so that they go back to their original wild habitat.

Far too often people see the little ones (and sometimes even the big ones) and think it’s a cool opportunity to get up close and personal with nature.

What they don’t seem to understand is that their interference is often signing the little one’s death warrant.

Wild animals like deer will leave their fawns alone while they go off and graze, as fawns are naturally protected by giving off no scent for predators to follow. But if you interact with a fawn, the mother will very often reject it after your interference, and it will die. Touch it, and you’re killing it.

Then there are bears, which are a whole other kettle of fish. Black bears, like the ones we have around here, are generally not aggressive, and will leave you alone if you leave them alone.

But they are bears, nonetheless, and there is a potential for serious injury.

That little bear that’s out there right now trying to scavenge food from people’s yards and garbage cans will inevitably grow into a much bigger animal as it matures. It is vitally important that it not become used to getting its food from human sources a it grows.

It will never forget that lesson, and it is almost a sure thing that such behaviour will necessitate it being put down by conservation officers. A cub going through your garbage, unafraid of you, is one thing. A full grown bear doing the same is quite another situation.

Cowichan Lake is a beautiful spot, and one of the things that can make it so special to residents and visitors alike is that they can get a glimpse of area wildlife. We cannot urge people strongly enough to take all the photos you like, but keep your distance. It’s for your health and the health of all those beautiful, wild creatures.

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