Before anything else, it needs to be said that Haisla Nation Council is saddened that it was necessary to destroy bears in Kitamaat Village on July 17.
Such events rightly provide an opportunity to ask questions about how we respond to wildlife and to look at ways to improve the way we respond to these situations.
First, however, the facts: a grizzly bear and cubs were observed in our community. They had become habituated to eating garbage, showed no fear of humans, and were lingering in areas frequented by not only the general public but specifically our children as well.
Kitamaat Village is no stranger to bear encounters. They happen often.
They still happen. After the events of July 17, there are still reports in our community of grizzly and black bears. When a bear is seen, word is shared and people exercise extra caution to avoid conflicts.
In the case of the grizzlies, their threat to the community had gone beyond the usual.
That said, work does need to take place to limit these kinds of events in our future. Our staff are already preparing for an upgrade of our community garbage bins to be bear safe, and our administration has been in communication with the Conservation Office Service since this event took place.
We will review and strengthen our community bylaws as appropriate to improve public safety.
We are also excited to work proactively with local Conservation Officers to establish an educational campaign to reduce wildlife conflicts in the future.
We hope our efforts are a start in providing a safer community for our Haisla members.