Print Edition: October 22, 2014
When someone is attacked by a wild animal, there seems to be a natural reaction to blame the animal, not the victim. Regardless of where the attack occurs, it always appears to be the animal’s fault.
If a wild animal (for the purposes of this article, meaning an animal that could potentially kill you, such as a cougar or a bear) is spotted in a residential area, there is huge media coverage, which often results in widespread panic even if an attack hasn’t happened. These animals aren’t wandering into our backyards for funsies — they are dealing with the depletion of their forests for the sake of housing developments and are having a hard time finding food as a result.
Any time I hear about a bear in a residential area, I always think of the movie Over the Hedge. In it, a hibernating bear has collected a stash of “people food” and a hungry raccoon named R.J. takes the opportunity to steal some Spuddies, the animated film version of Pringles. R.J. is busted, and a plethora of woodland creatures have to go into the terrifying human world “over the hedge” so that they can replace the bear’s junk food collection before he kills poor R.J. The animals in the film have had their forest encroached on and humans have moved into their territory — it’s so bad, they are eating potato chips instead of berries. While this isn’t exactly how it works in real life, bears and other animals often resort to eating garbage and people food simply due to a lack of options.
If a wild animal does happen to attack a human, killing the animal is not the answer. It doesn’t matter if the attack occurs in your backyard, on a hiking trail, or while you are out hunting the type of animal that attacks you; the animal obviously has a reason for the attack, and I highly doubt it is out of malice.
We still have enough forest land in BC that these animals can easily be tranquilized and then relocated, without any harm to the animal. Why we feel the need to get some sort of twisted revenge on these animals is beyond me — they are wild animals and we are in their territory, whether we think so or not.