Open letter to Premier-designate John Horgan:
Though your tenure as Premier for British Columbia is yet to formally begin, a pressing issue that is influencing the safety of wildlife and humans alike requires your immediate intervention.
The Conservation Officer Service has recorded thousands of calls regarding black bears already this year, and in May alone, over 100 of bears in potential conflict situations were killed. Both these numbers are drastic increases from previous years, and much of it is related to irresponsible handling of trash, and other human-caused scenarios. And both these numbers can be reduced – and economic, ecological and safety issues addressed – by creating a more effective prevention and response network.
Conservation Officers need more boots on the ground, both so they can provide increased preventative education through investigation and citations to landowners at potential conflict spots, and so they have time to dedicate to exercising non-lethal solutions to wildlife conflict. Equally as important is providing municipalities the tools they need through similar efforts: by-law officers, educational materials, and access to provincial resources (such as Conservation Officers and other Ministry Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, or Ministry of Environment staff).
As British Columbia grows, this problem, created by us, will increase. An economically and ecologically sound, humane solution lays not in lethal management, but in co-existence. But without your leadership and support to increase the funding for Conservation Officers, municipalities, and other resources, the fatal costs will continue to add up – and that’s not the beautiful British Columbia we all love.