Could Black Bears join the election campaign?
Plenty of black bears and cubs have crossed paths with Aylmerites in the last ten days. Schools such as École du Forest (located in a residential neighbourhood, not a forest) and D’Arcy / Symmes were on high alert due to nearby bear sightings. In Deschênes neighbourhood, a bus driver was warning folks to walk with caution because of a bear sighting. Last week, authorities euthanized a cub after it was hit on des Allumetières Boulevard, near Vanier Road.
Many followers of the Bulletin’s social-media outlets responded to these stories with outrage, blaming all the residential development around Aylmer. They see it as bears being pushed from their natural and ancient habitat by our homes, streets, parking lots and buildings.
Some of those outraged folks, it is clear to a newsroom researcher such as myself, actually live in these new residential neighbourhoods!
Isn’t it curious to read outrage about a situation that was created by those crying foul?
There is a similarity between these folks and people who don’t vote in elections yet point fingers at all the political blunders, past and present. Or is this too simple? Everyone needs a home, and so new neighbourhoods are a necessary part of life. That the new development between Vanier Road and the Le Plateau neighbourhood is in full construction just as the bear sightings increase is interesting timing. But contributing factors such as time of year, food availability, weather and climate changes, and the traditional roaming habits of bears must also be part of the picture.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has published a map of the Gatineau Hills to the Ottawa River showing the corridors used by wildlife. Roaming animals in the area move between the Gatineau Hills, as a habitat, down to the Ottawa River, as a waterside feeding zone. Most wild animals roam; roaming is natual.
So, studying how new housing and highways, black bears, and wildlife corridors all relate may provide some relief to readers who are so upset about these new neighbourhoods. Keeping swaths of green space throughout new neighbourhoods, especially within the Gatineau Hills, to the Ottawa River corridor, means wildlife does have a way to travel their usual routes.
Reducing fencing is another suggestion for developers who aim to lessen their impact upon the roaming animals.
It really is up to each individual to look carefully at how we each impact the greater community around us, including black bears.
In this last leg of the Quebec electoral campaign, couldn’t the outrage so many feel about the bears’ plight be redirected towards election issues? Readers, aren’t there provincial issues stirring enough to actually move you to go out to vote? Aren’t there commitments from candidates you want to encourage by your vote? Support for protecting black bear habitats, for example?