It is an unfortunate fact of life that where people choose to live, there are often problems with wildlife. Perhaps the local deer take a liking to flower beds or cross the road just as people drive by, or maybe a bear tears open a bag of trash. When people and wildlife meet, it is up to us to adapt. After all, it's a small price to pay for living away from the cities and suburbs, and we can hardly negotiate with nature! We have to keep attractants away from the bears, and either sacrifice a few flowers or protect them with wire.
Last year, at least five bears were killed in the small town of Lake City, Colorado. Each case was different, but many would agree that fear and ignorance were common factors. With a year-round population of around 400, that would mean that roughly one bear died for every 80 residents. I wonder if the many wildlife lovers who visit would feel comfortable with those figures.
While there are strong feelings on both sides, it is not something that is discussed very often (although there are a few passionate people working to change this). Some people think nothing of exploiting pictures of distressed bears in order to attract business, but do nothing to prevent more unnecessary bear fatalities.
Chris Parmeter, a wildlife officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, wrote a painfully honest account of his dealings with so-called problem bears, and the harrowing, tragic final encounter he had with one bear. I encourage you all to read it, especially if you live in or visit bear country - click here.