LETTER: THE TROUBLE WITH BEAR BANGERS

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by Letters to the editor on Monday June 13 2016

As a wise and departed friend once said to me, “I feel a letter coming on”.

A Bear Banger is a very loud explosive that is launched from a hand held cylinder. They are meant for use in remote areas to ward off aggressive bears for fear of one’s safety. Hikers, wilderness campers, wildlife photographers and the like often carry them. They are unregulated and more available than firecrackers.

The problem: People using bear bangers irresponsibly in an urban neighbourhood, unaware of the consequences, create a public safety hazard.

For example: Someone in my neighbourhood wants to rid his property of wandering bears by very frequently discharging bear bangers. The result: he is chasing once calm, now frightened bears from his yard into mine and others. Several times I’ve looked up after hearing a bear banger to see a frightened and confused bear running through the neighbourhood at a time when both adults and children are outside. This action creates a far greater hazard than having a calm bear passing through. Imagine having a frightened bear confront a person, especially a child. What could possibly happen?

A few comments from those in the know:

Mike Badry, Wildlife Conflict Manager, Conservation Office, Victoria: “There is no provincial legislation or regulation that prohibits the use of bear bangers. It would be a violation, however, to shoot a banger directly at wildlife (i.e. hit wildlife with the projectile). Bangers can also be a hazard to use as it is difficult to gauge where the banger will explode (it could move wildlife toward you instead of away) and they can be a fire hazard during dry conditions. If you are trying to deter wildlife in urban areas by using noise we promote things like banging pots and pans, using an air horn, or shouting, always from a safe place such as up on a deck. You should also check with your municipality. There could very well be bylaws that prohibit the use of bear bangers”.

Rossland City Councillor Lloyd McLellan: “There is no city bylaw in place. Sorry I cannot help you. I agree on the point you make. The bears when frightened or excited become far more dangerous”.

Desiree Profili, WildSafeBC Coordinator Rossland/Trail: “Bear Bangers are designed for a short term response to a bear threat in a remote area. The reason bears are in town and in yards is because there is an attractant present, for example ripe fruit, berries, compost, bird seed or garbage. To keep bears out of an area the attractants must be managed.

“Bear Bangers may work the 1st few times but because there is no physical consequence to the bear eventually the noise will no longer bother the bear rendering the Bangers ineffective.

“The other issue is that the results of Bear Bangers are just too unpredictable to be considered safe. WildSafeBC’s mandate is to keep ‘wildlife wild and communities safe’. So our policy is to manage the attractants either by removing them or containing through various means such as bear proof garbage Bins or electric fencing.

“If a bear has become habituated there then there becomes a need for the incident to be reported to the RAPP Line 1-877-952-7277 so that the situation can be dealt with in a controlled and safe manner”.

So there you have it: my rant. The irresponsible practice of using bear bangers in town must stop; it’s a serious public safety issue that cannot be left silent until someone is mauled and the “shooter” facing charges. I’ve heard bangers going off in other parts of Rossland and have been told it happens in Trail as well. I can only assume this is a widespread urban issue that police and conservation officers would like to know about before something bad happens.

No doubt when there is a bear – human encounter we’ll be quick to blame and shoot the bear.

Thanks for reading this,

Dave Watson, Rossland

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