Letter: Response to “Compost Queen” (BPP Letter Issue #6/21)

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Our neighbor four doors up had this large bear come through their back yard and walk down the driveway during the day. This illustrates that our household is not the only household experiencing the problem that the composting is causing.

For going on three years we have been working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) Bear Management Technician Ben McGill to educate ourselves regarding the increased Bear activity every spring along Cape Hurd. This spring has been exceptionally busy. To date, we have seen dual sets of twin cubs and a single cub. That is 3 sows and 5 cubs. And on some nights, we had as many as 6 bears through our back yard at different times.

Your letter “Compost Queen” of May 7th (BPP Issue #6/21) finally shed light on our situation. 

I completely agree with the principles with what composting can provide and how much it can enhance the environment. However, this is no longer considered house hold composting as other compost material is being relocated therefore making it essentially a land fill site. And the increased bear population is further evidence of this. 

I am not writing to persecute the individual who wrote the letter nor the “Queen” herself, but instead to help educate people that are practicing open composting that they may in fact be causing more harm than good.

Everything has a proper time and place.

Living in an area zoned residential, in Bear Country, in the early Spring months when bears are coming out of hibernation, in my opinion, is not a suitable time or place to practice Open Concept Composting.

This past Saturday, June 5th, is a perfect example of the negative effects. Commencing at 8:45 pm, while my wife was sitting on our back deck, a bear walked out of the bush to our back lawn, no more than 12 yards away. When the bear saw her, it showed no fear and proceeded to graze the clover in our yard. 

She was able to back up to the patio door and get inside the house. Because this bear had demonstrated no fear and complete comfort around humans indicated to me that the bear was not predictable, as it should have immediately run back to comforts of the bush instead of continuing to feast on our lawn. 

To compound this and make the situation even more dangerous she had a cub. Had the bear felt threatened by my wife’s presence she very well could have attacked in defense of her cub. Although that behavior was probably not likely, neither is it likely a bear would walk out in a human’s presence with no hesitation. 

The unfortunate thing is I was in my right, under the Property Protection Act to execute this bear and unfortunately the bear was not at fault. The human activity (Open Composting) taught the bear where it could eat, the bear learned that a back yard is an easy food source for it to replenish the fat reserves it needs to survive through the winter months.

And that is the travesty of the whole act. We think we are doing good and pay no attention to the ramifications or consequences that we may be causing. 

Collecting refuge from a local grocery store and composting in open piles in a residential area goes completely against what Ontario has been trying to educate the public with the Bear Wise program. https://www.ontario.ca/page/prevent-bear-encounters-bear-wise

Furthermore, we are educating bears that human interaction is not a harmful situation and they no longer have fear and will make themselves present during day light hours when not only adults sit out side but kids play in the yards which has been evident this spring on a number of occasions. 

This activity is placing people in a situation where they feel compelled to execute the bear under the Property Protection Act and in the end, we the humans are directly responsible for that travesty.

In conclusion, we must continue to educate ourselves and practice the steps in the Bear Wise Program in order to not only live with the bears but indirectly protect the bears.

Bears will come into our yards and feed on dandelions during early spring months while they wait for berries and new growth to develop in the bush, but if left alone they will do this during our sleeping hours when the possibility of human interaction is at its lowest. They do not need to be enticed by introducing them to food that is not normally within their own environment. 

Someone with less patience than ourselves would justifiable be shooting these bears and be fully with within their rights. 

M.J. Trotter