Thursday, April 18, 2024

Who Really Killed a Black Bear in Newmarket?

A black bear was killed by York Regional Police in Newmarket, Ontario; breaking news on June 1st, 2015. The black bear death news made headlines on almost all major news networks probably across the nation, if the bear only new, CTV, Global, CBC had the coverage; and stirred up a lot of controversy on social media as well. Over a bitter cup of coffee, not enough cream, I was contemplating today about York Regional Police actions against a black bear in a Newmarket neighbourhood. I was contemplating who really killed a black bear in Newmarket?

Furthermore, I was contemplating will they do the same to the Toronto Zoo runaway peacock? The peacock news died a few days ago, hopefully the peacock did not. Apparently Zoo officials are hoping the bird will come back to the zoo. Perhaps not, he already escaped twice. Get it? Escaped twice. Well, that is up to the Toronto Police Service to decide.

The black bear story in Newmarket is a different story. Black bears are by far more dangerous than peacocks, and they don’t run away, they usually search for food. They make seasonal appearances. “They’re looking for food,” explained Const. Jim Edwards of the Orillia OPP. He recommends people try to keep all food supplies, including pet food, and scraps inside as much as possible. Not only are bears going after birdfeeders with bird seeds, but they are also knocking over compost bins to find meats and fruits. Source: Bear spotted in Orillia. Darn good advice for the people.

I was at the Aurora Community Arboretum at the time the black bear in Newmarket was killed by York Regional Police. A helicopter flew over my head. A few seconds later, another helicopter showed up on my radar. Both were flying away from Newmarket. Both were police helicopters. Two helicopters, I thought that must be serious. A third helicopter appeared from the opposite direction. This one was heading towards Newmarket. It was CTV news. Bad news, must be? I turned to Google, but old news from last year was listed and it wasn’t good news at all, children killed, man murdered. WTF? Bad news era?

But Monday June 1st, 2015 was a bad news day for an encroaching black bear in Newmarket. Killed! On the same day around the same time a black bear in Orillia was spotted. No further news about the Orillia black bear is hopefully good news.

I watched the video on TV. The black bear was running for his life. The black bear was not attacking anyone. The black bear was being chased. The black bear apparently was forced to climb a tree, supposedly a good position for tranquilizing. When he was on the move again, police didn’t want to take any chances. They shot the bear. They shot many times. They didn’t wait for the Ministry of Natural Resources. According to the media, the MNR person arrived three minutes after the shots were fired. He was too late.

“Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test … consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.” ― Milan Kundera

Police said they were forced to shoot the bear after it began climbing down from the tree. Officers were concerned because many children in the neighbourhood were walking to school.” Source: Black bear roaming Newmarket backyards shot dead by police. Very much a valid statement. We should never compromise the safety of our children or elderly, or those who cannot protect themselves. But this is in question, why was the safety of people on the weekend compromised when the bear was spotted for the first time in Newmarket? How about all the people BBQing and eating outside, or working in their backyards? How about all the people hanging out around their homes? Walking in the neighbourhood? I saw that bear on TV, he was quite an acrobat.

On @YRP twitter account, York Regional Police tweeted: “Officers do not have tranquilizers or other options for dealing with wildlife. We could not let the bear harm a person while waiting for MNR.” I really think the question is why not have tranquilizers as an alternative to a bullet gun? Death is irreversible for anyone, not just black bears. Tranquilizing is not.

About other alternatives. The priority of York Regional police, could perhaps have been, to keep the public safe and encourage people as much as possible to take shelter in their homes until the animal was captured. Also to keep curious spectators away until the Ministry of Natural Resources arrived. Two helicopters on hand? To watch a hungry bear running around, being chased. I hope one of the helicopters was used to bring the MNR person to the site or did he arrive by car? I see this scenario giving the bear a better chance to survive and less chance for anyone to get attacked by the bear.

Since a black bear sighting in Newmarket was reported on Saturday, he obviously was in the area since then. Perhaps pro-activity was overlooked as well. To ensure public safety, perhaps more warnings could have been issued to the residents. Why not have more patrol and MNR staff ready on stand by. Barrie reported several black bear sightings in a week, last week. Again, warnings could have been issued to the surrounding municipalities. And why would police not have tranquilizers? Beats me, again. I am disappointed along with all those disappointed. York Regional Police and Ministry of Natural Resources are defending their actions, but someone needs to be blamed and unfortunately its the dangerous black bear, not.

I know, I know. Who really killed a black bear in Newmarket? In my view, the system did. It seems that York Regional Police have only one protocol in place, to protect public safety, first and foremost. There isn’t one for public and wildlife safety. To ensure public safety, the public should have been encouraged to seek shelter in the area. A second issue is a lack of pro-active measures. Let me remind again, the black bear was on the loose since Saturday. Last week black bears were reported repeatedly in Barrie. Hint! It’s black bear season perhaps. Oh, and tranquilizers would have been nice. Just saying again.

“The best way of being kind to bears is not to be very close to them.” ― Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam

Speaking of another picture, the bigger picture, FactNotFallacy2 @BuyNonUnion commented on the ‘Black bear roaming Newmarket backyards shot dead by police‘ news: “Bears return to urban areas because stupid people leave out garbage for them to forage through. Our wildlife are falling victim to the greed of urban sprawl. When I was a kid, Newmarket was primarily farmland, Jane and Finch was 100 percent farmland. Problems like this did not exist. Then developers and investors threw a wrench into the gears.” Exactly, at the bottom of this the real root cause is not the protocols or lack of bear hunts, it is urban sprawl.  But that is a topic for another rainy day.

It’s bear season for sure. My walk through Aurora Community Arboretum that day ended in spotting another round of bird species that must have arrived when I was away, a killdeer and kingbird. No peacock, coyotes or bears were spotted during my walk. After all this contemplating and deliberating about killing or not killing the black bear, I now have a better appreciation for the chipmunk in my backyard. And if he digs in my garden again I will definitely invest in a megaphone to give him one good warning, ‘please take shelter immediately.’

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON


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