Studies, symposiums, task forces… what would we do without them in the Bow Valley?
Rarely, it seems, can anything be accomplished without throwing time and money at some form of study when something needs to be done.
In the case of the upcoming Parks Canada-Canadian Pacific Railway plan to hold a symposium this fall to garner expert advice on reducing bear deaths – we’re of two minds on the issue.
On the one hand, it’s all well and good that Parks and CP are going to put their collective heads together and try to come up with some means of avoiding train/bear collisions that are decimating the population in the mountain park.
Trains, after all, are the No. 1 human-caused killer of our bears.
On the other hand, while transportation experts may be in short supply among Parks staff, we believe a study/symposium need look no further for most of its input than the Parks experts currently in-house. Parks’ wildlife experts, after all, are intimately familiar with the wildlife – bears, cougar, elk, etc. – that call these mountains home and which often meet their end in wildlife/vehicle collisions.
We appreciate the fact $1 million is being thrown at the problem and we like the idea of a quick two-day symposium to finalize what areas need to be looked at.
It’s where the ‘molasses in January’ approach raises its ugly head that we lose faith in the process.
A five-year research program? Seriously?
At this point, we’re talking about 10 bears or more killed in the last decade; not to mention ungulates and other critters. To pencil in a five-year plan to complete a study of bears, vegetation, sight lines, etc. seems ludicrous.
Throw in a request for proposals process and averages would suggest another five bears, give or take a few orphaned cubs, could meet their maker before this study sees the light of day. And if a majority of those bears are females, the grizzly population could take a real hit before anything concrete is decided upon.
If as Parks says, they (wildlife experts) and CP (transportation experts) have been working hard on the problem, shouldn’t some kind of consensus be in the offing?
Is someone suggesting that completed studies have no validity? That all new work needs to be conducted before anything can be done to reduce bear mortality? New statistics need to be compiled and analysed?
It’s not like deadly train/bear interactions have only suddenly occurred. It’s been a problem for 10 long years… and not just here, but North America-wide. We would assume U.S. Park Rangers also have some interesting data at their fingertips.
And again, Parks’ own experts have been dealing with these bears for years. They know their travel patterns, where and why they are attracted to the tracks, and areas of particular danger. We’re sure, even if Parks and CP aren’t, that in-house wildlife managers have pretty much all the information necessary to suggest ways to reduce mortality.
At some point, wouldn’t you just love to read in the Outlook that someone in charge of something decided something needed to be done, and simply made it happen? A la Captain Picard (‘make it so’)? We’d enjoy reporting that.
In the meantime, CP is a company that earns billions each year. We’re picturing some robotics genius coming up with something like a fuel efficient drone rail car which would run the tracks in advance of trains, replete with wildlife sensors, appropriate bells and whistles, maybe a bear catcher to tumble bruins out of the way, maybe a low impact deterrent…
Hey, at one time, flight was deemed impossible…