The reason for me starting to write this blog was because of the profound effect a certain 700lb grizzly bear had on me whilst working with him in 2011. Boo's story is a tragic one and when I visit him there is still a deep sadness in his eyes, his life was truly interrupted.
More recently there was Clover the Kermode Bear who through no fault of his own now resides in a zoo. After he was successfully rehabilitated and released, humans caused his life to change direction and now his future is behind bars and then there is the very sad story of Terry and Blair the two orphaned grizzlies that became a little too confident around humans and of course this lead to their demise in the form of euthanization by the Conservation Service.
Tika, Terry and Blair
On Friday 11th October 2013, a day that will haunt me forever, I had taken an early morning walk along the beautiful Columbia River here, I followed the footprints of the bear that frequents the area and as always felt at complete peace in my surroundings, that was about to change.
Walking Alongside the Bears
I received a message from a friend who works for Parks Canada that asked me about Tika's ear tag numbers and collar..... my heart jumped then proceeded to sink.... what did that mean? Her message was shortly followed by another message from Angelika Langen from Northern Lights Wildlife Society telling me that unfortunately Tika had been hit by a vehicle on Hwy 93 in Kootenay National Park and was killed, he had been eating a carcass of a ungulate and there was dense fog in the area at the time of the incident. Words alone cannot describe the emotion that hit me like a semi truck driving too fast on a Highway, I was in total shock and could not comprehend what I had heard. This beautiful little boy bear who fought to survive when the odds were stacked against him, went forth into the wilderness on his day of release with a smile on his grizzly little face, excitement in his step and so much hope....... his end is a tragedy of the worst kind.
Again another BEAR INTERRUPTED.
Things need to change to allow these bears at least a slight chance to survive and stay wild and we as homo sapiens HAVE TO help with this, we need to learn to co-exist with bears. Grizzlies like Terry, Blair and Tika need to be released into an environment which allows them the freedom to roam the distances they need to, to survive without human fragmentation and interference. I am not a scientist but I do know that the rehabilitated grizzlies are always released back into their home ranges because of genetics, I ask the question now, is this truly necessary? The grizzly is a species of concern and surely when a grizzly is rehabilitated and released it should be taken into an area where they are protected and can grow into adults, a prime example of a perfect location is the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Refuge on the North West Coast of BC. This years tragedies are just more proof that habitat fragmentation is detrimental to the Grizzly Bear.
The other BIG issue is our Highways and Railtracks. Things are improving a little with the animal overpasses, underpasses and fencing but still so many creatures lose their lives because of humans in such a hurry to get somewhere, we need signs and more penalties for those who do not respect the sensitive environment they travel through and the animals that reside therein. I am now in the process of writing letters and and telling Tika's story to highlight the issues, his death will not be in vain, I will do everything I can to make a difference.
Along with all these obstacles they still allow a trophy hunt...... SERIOUSLY something is very VERY wrong. If we lose the grizzly bear our precious eco systems will be compromised and ultimately the planet will pay the biggest price.
This is the last picture I took of Tika on his release day, I still cannot believe he has gone.....and I will forever feel him in the breeze.