148, we hardly knew you

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Voters in the Outlook’s annual Best of the Bow awards recently dubbed the summer saga surrounding grizzly 148 as Best News Story of the Year.

That story has now dismally ended with her death in northern B.C.

The bear 148 story is now one of abject failure – on so many levels. There is plenty of blame to spread around; from those who affected her by entering wildlife corridors with their dogs, to those who ignored bear closures and therefore continued to surround her with human presence, to those who display massive indifference to the plight of bears and other wildlife in our wild spaces.

And once again, we see that when wildlife managers move a bear out of the area, it generally results in its death.

Oddly enough, about the only person who need not shoulder any blame is the hunter who set their rifle or bow site on 148. From their point of view, she was a grizzly in an area open for hunting.

We do wonder, though, if said hunter had any inkling that this bear, which was very comfortable around people, acted oddly different to human presence than your average bear. Whereas other bears would have headed for distant parts immediately on scenting a hunter, did this bear hang around and have a look?

News of 148’s death again highlights the need to get people together (see page 16) in an effort to gain some kind of commitment to let our wildlife stay wild.

Hopefully, all those who had a hand in 148’s demise now have a few sleepless nights.

New NIMBY?

Pre-emptive strike? Creation of an election issue a la Flames/Calgary arena talks? Advance intimidation for a future Canmore council?

Call it what you will; in siccing lawyers on Canmore council in advance of a decision concerning an off-leash dog park in Hubman Landing, residents there may have set a new standard for NIMBY.

Not content to have their voices heard in opposition to a proposed off-leash dog park in their neighbourhood, 30 residents have thinned their wallets by hiring lawyers to offer up threats of litigation ahead of time – should council’s decision not go the residents’ way.

One can only hope this style of litigious threat will not become the norm in Canmore municipal politics. There’s certainly no other way to look at this situation than one of pre-meditated intimidation. Unspoken is the threat that should council decide to plunk a dog park in Hubman residents’ midst, well then …

But governments, at any level, cannot operate or make decisions based on the likelihood of possible litigation should their verdicts not meet the expectations of those with deep pockets, or the willingness to go to court to settle issues.

Should the threat of litigation sway mayors and councils, MLAs or MPs, where would we be? Would the first step in any council decision be to weigh the likelihood of legal action? Would those appearing before council on any given issue be made to offer up bank statements that might indicate their willingness to litigate?

Would municipal governments be forced to raise taxes to build a war chest to combat ongoing litigation? Would those of modest means never see a decision go their way, while those flush with funds for lawyers could expect support on any given issue?

Litigation is not the answer.

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Rocky Mountain Outlook