Dear Garibaldi Lake Hikers and Campers:
Yesterday, you killed a bear.
You have been coming up to the lake for weeks this summer. You leave trash beside the lake and on the trail. You drop food on the ground and leave it there. You cook in your campsite. You leave spills on the picnic tables. You abandon leftover food and garbage in the kitchen shelters. You sleep with food and toiletries in your tent. You leave your backpack and snacks unattended while you 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 your garbage, your dropped food, your 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 you about cleaning up, not cooking in your campsite, and storing your food in the shelters.
But you didn’t listen. You kept making a mess. You kept leaving your garbage on the ground and in the shelter. You kept cooking in your campsite. You kept storing food in your tent and in your backpack. 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 you weren’t scary and that you 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.
You killed that bear. Maybe you thought you were just on a camping trip or going for a hike. But in the process, you also killed a bear.
If you don’t want to kill any more bears, please read up on bear safety.
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.