Last night we went to Shawn's brother's house to check out his new reno (and sit in his backyard and drink beer. Oh suburbia, how I love you and your wide open spaces.) Shawn's brother lives on a main-ish street that has a lot of small cul-de-sacs off it. We were driving past one of these cul-de-sacs when I noticed a bear in one of the gardens. Not a cute little garden gnome-ish type bear, but a huge mutha black bear. So we pull over and watch it amble through the flower beds, wondering what to do. We couldn't just leave - what if someone came out of their house and startled the bear? What if the bear felt threatened? We decided to call 9-1-1.
The 9-1-1 dispatcher put me through to the Police dispatcher who was completely unimpressed with the fact that there was a bear! in someone's garden! send in the troops!
After discerning that I was not in the immediate vicinity of the bear (seriously, if you had a bear breathing down your neck, would you a: call 9-1-1 or b: run the fuck away?) she asked if the bear seemed aggressive (how am I qualified to answer that? Who am I to determine how the bear is feeling? I just found the bear, I didn't ask how it's doing) or if anyone was chasing the bear (I know, right? Chasing the bear. Who would do that? Moose tits, that's who!) I told her that no, the bear was happily munching away on something in the garden and no-one was chasing it. She then gives me the phone number for the conservation office and tells me that unless the bear is harming a person or is being harmed by a person, the police don't do anything. Which just seems wrong. I mean, it's a BEAR. In a GARDEN. Down the street from an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. But it's not a police matter because there has been no blood shed. Blows my mind.
So I call the conservation office. The man I spoke to told me that all they do is record the date, time and neighbourhood information for their statistics, unless the bear is harming a person. In which case I should call the police.
It's a tough one - on one hand I feel like when you build houses on a mountain, in wooded areas, you deserve to have bears eating your petunias. On the other hand, I feel like there needs to be some sort of agency to deal with incidents like this. It's not safe to have bears in neighbourhoods. The neighbourhoods aren't going to disappear (and hopefully neither will the bears) so someone needs to be able to protect the people in the neighbourhoods. Just last week in Coquitlam there was a woman gardening and she got mauled by a black bear. It would be interesting to know if anyone had called the police with any bear sightings in her neighbourhood that day.