A Quick Note: This article was originally published in August 2016. The aim of this post was to shock people in order to raise awareness. I know it’s an uncomfortable post to read and that many hikers and campers might feel a bit confronted since they don’t engage in the kind of behaviour discussed here. However, there are lots of hikers and campers who aren’t aware of bear safety best practices or choose to disregard them. Those are the people I’m trying to reach. I’m hoping that with more information and education, everyone can enjoy wild places and co-exist with the natural environment.
Dear Garibaldi Lake Hikers and Campers:
Yesterday, we killed a bear.
We have been coming up to the lake for weeks this summer. We leave trash beside the lake and on the trail. We drop food on the ground and leave it there. We cook in our campsites. We leave spills on the picnic tables. We abandon leftover food and garbage in the kitchen shelters. We sleep with food and toiletries in our tents. We leave our backpacks and snacks unattended while we take photos.
A couple weeks ago a juvenile bear wandered into the Garibaldi Lake campground. It was hungry and alone, likely spending its first season without Mom. The bear was scared of the people in the campground, but it smelled our garbage, our dropped food, our careless mess and it couldn’t resist. The rangers chased the bear away, put up signs warning there was a bear in the area and tried to talk to us about cleaning up, not cooking in our campsite, and storing our food in the shelters.
But we didn’t listen. We kept making a mess. We kept leaving our garbage on the ground and in the shelter. We kept cooking in our campsite. We kept storing food in our tents and in our backpacks. And the bear still couldn’t resist. It was hungry and alone. And it kept coming back.
Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny summer day at Garibaldi Lake. There were hundreds of day hikers and backpackers at the campground enjoying the view, taking photos, and eating lunch. And in the afternoon, despite all those people, the bear could not resist coming through the campground to look for something to eat. The bear was no longer scared of people.
The rangers chased the bear away again but they knew it would be back. The bear had learned that we weren’t scary and that we would continue to leave food and garbage out for it. Eventually, the bear might have attacked a hiker or ripped open a tent with sleeping campers inside. The rangers knew they only had one option: The bear was sentenced to death. And on Sunday morning a BC Conservation Officer flew into the campground by helicopter.
We killed that bear. Maybe we thought we were just on a camping trip or going for a hike. But in the process, we also killed a bear.
If you don’t want to kill any more bears, please read up on bear safety.
BC Parks Bear Safety Guidelines
Parks Canada Camping in Bear Country Guidelines
I’ve also written a post that summarizes bear safety guidelines for hikers, car campers and backpackers.
In memory of this lonely and hungry little bear, please consider sharing this post with your fellow hikers using the social media share buttons below. Let’s get the word out about bear safety.
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Sunday 13th of August 2017
That's so sad :( I'm going there tomorrow for 3 days, and can't wait to explore the area. I can't believe that people leave food, poor bear. Thanks for writing the post and reminding people how important it is taking care of those things!
Saturday 12th of August 2017
The headline is kind of disrespectful to the experienced avid hikers who respect the environment. Needless to say the individuals that don't clean up after themselves hopefully understand that the outdoors is sacred. You wouldn't leave a mess in your front yard. Why would you do that in the back country ? I guess we aren't as smart as we think as species. Needless to say this is a foot in the right direction. People need to be educated before setting a foot into our parks, peaks, and the outdoors in general. Excellent article
Saturday 12th of August 2017
The really sad thing is that it doesn't take any skill to keep your food away from bears in Garibaldi. You don't have to make your own tree cache in this park (and you should not here) as food caches are provided for all campers to use in all of the official camp grounds in Garibaldi. This bear was killed because of a lack of education, laziness or (as in many cases I see these days with litter left on trails) selfishness and a general disregard for others and our environment.
Friday 11th of August 2017
We kill many bears, whales, ants, birds, wolves, elephants, other humans, it's what we do best! we are a parasitic species that has ruined this planet! This shouldn't come to anyone's surprise.. We kill shit all the time, just as long as we get what we want. I know this sounds really negative and pessimistic but it's the truth.
Tuesday 13th of September 2016
I'm pretty late joining the conversation but felt a need to comment. It's been a rather unprecedented year in my small rural community this year with Grizzlies and an unusual amount of black bear activity. The safety of the beautiful animals has had the community divided, as, for some reason, some people seem to forget that living at the base of an uninhabited mountain means we're living in the bears country. Anyways, that is another topic. My thought on this topic is to wonder why there is not a Park Attendant that lives in the campground all season. I know that there is one at Kokanee Glacier during the season (they rotate 2 weeks on 2 weeks off). It would be nice to see this at all Provincial Parks in the remote camping areas. I think they could have huge rolls in educating people of best and safe practices and showing them the results of not following these practices. I'm going to try to be optimistic in this last statement that I think (hope) most people just truly do not understand the consequences of their actions and once they do understand they will do better in the future.