Are Humans Really Smarter Than Bears?
To The Editor:
Living in the mountains comes with certain responsibilities to protect the ecosystem we live in. Unfortunately, there are too many people that move to the mountains, have seasonal residences in the mountains, or come to visit the mountains and are unaware of these responsibilities.
Bears and other wildlife have to eat. Elk, deer and other ungulates have it a bit easier than bears. There tends to be grasses available in almost all locations throughout our town, National Park, and surrounding areas. Although, living here in Estes for 14 years, I have witnessed irresponsible building on these meadows which does shrink the food supply for these grazers particularly in winter months.
Bears forage after berries, insects, carrion of winter-killed animals, eggs, fish, roots, grasses and unfortunately garbage left out by irresponsible humans. The bears are following their natural instinct and need to eat. They will eat garbage if it is available and easy to get, even when their natural food s are available. I guess you can equate it to humans stopping for fast food instead of taking the time to cook dinner at home.
Humans, we are told, are supposed to be one of the most intelligent of mammals. Being that we have the ability to reason and can empathize with other species, it is our responsibility to keep balance in the ecosystem where we live. We have moved into to habitat of so many species, but some of us do not want to do what it takes to live amongst them.
I spoke with a woman in my neighborhood last week. She was disappointed that another neighbor bear-proofed his dumpster. She said she liked watching the bear every night and that the bear has been coming to the dumpster for three years anyhow. Much to my surprise she had no understanding that when bears get in the habit of foraging for garbage, they are not eating the things they should and eventually it becomes a death sentence for the bear.
It is our responsibility as the higher species to protect the animals we live amongst. In my opinion this includes not feeding any of the animals. People throw food on the ground as if they are going to compost, but instead they end up feeding foxes, coyotes, raccoons and others. These same folks will then wonder where their small dog or cat has disappeared to after they have drawn the predatory coyote and fox to their home.
As individuals we all need to be responsible for our environment. We need to bear proof our garbage cans and dumpsters. As a community need an ordinance requiring bear-proofing all garbage cans and dumpster. An ordinance is needed for those that are ignorant, indifferent or just not as intelligent as the bears and other animals we live amongst.
Estes Park, CO