Residents should learn to coexist with wildlife
A mother bear and one of her cubs are dead after a Maggie Valley resident had a close encounter with the animals earlier this week.
The mother bear was periodically disturbing the resident’s bird feeders. Claiming the bear was charging him, the resident made the decision to shoot the mother bear twice, leaving behind three cubs in a tree nearby.
Many people in the community have commented that the death of this bear wasn’t justified — the resident could have taken down his bird feeders or he could have stayed inside his home. There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ but the fact remains that two cubs — not even old enough to eat solid food — are orphans now and a vehicle probably hit the third cub that got away from wildlife officers.
Since there were no witnesses, we’ll never know for sure what transpired that day or whether this tragedy could have been avoided. We can only try to learn from this incident and hope it doesn’t happen again.
Of course residents have a right to enjoy their private property and protect themselves from wildlife if they feel their lives are in danger, but we also need to learn how to coexist with the wildlife. The bear and elk inhabited this land long before we were here and we want to keep them here.
The part-time resident who shot the bear suggested it is the responsibility of the state wildlife officers to assume the responsibility for removing problem bears from private property.
That wasn’t a viable solution even before the department’s budget was slashed drastically.
Considering that between 15 to 20 calls a day are fielded in Western North Carolina about bear sightings, such a suggestion is clearly not feasible.
Our wildlife is a big part of what makes our community beautiful and also attracts tourists to the area so they can see these animals in their natural habitat. We’ve already stolen much of their habitat, which is why they are depending more and more upon our trash, bird seed and any other available food source.
We must use common sense when it comes to dealing with bears. They will not come sniffing around your home unless they smell food. Don’t leave out food sources like trash or bird feeders out overnight.
If you see a bear in your yard, don’t go outside. If a bear keeps returning to your home even after all food sources have been removed, call Wildlife Resources Commission for assistance.
We encourage residents to enjoy watching our wildlife from a safe distance. Killing one of these creatures for instinctually looking for food is heartbreaking and we hope it doesn’t happen again.