A cruel and traumatic death that could possibly have been prevented

By David F. Rooney

What began as a magical wildlife observation for the Harper family in June has had a tragic and traumatic end.

At the beginning of the summer the family observed a black bear with three cubs — one of them a tan or cinnamon colour — alongside Highway 23S.

They produced a short video of their observation, which you can see below. But by the end of July the tan one had been killed by a vehicle near the same crossing point, Graham Harper told The Current.

Then last Friday, he said, a family member “was returning home and came across a scene where the second cub had been hit by a car – still alive in the middle of the road clearly with a broken back and in a lot of pain trying to escape, while the mother and last surviving sibling looked on trying to get to it.”

“Over the next 20 minutes or so whilst waiting for the RCMP the cub finally succumbed to its injuries,” Harper said.  “Clearly a distressing episode for anyone with compassion.”

He said this cruel and traumatic incident illustrates a major danger for bears as the 10 kilometres area south of the Highway 1/Highway 23S junction comprises an active crossing zone for bears.

“I personally know of five bears that have been killed on this stretch in the last few years – so I’m sure the number is higher,” Harper said, “but there are no signs warning motorists of the seasonal danger.”

He said he doesn’t know what the solution is but suggests that signs warning that the area is an active bear-crossing area may be appropriate to prevent further needless loss of life,

“This mother and her cubs had not been bothersome to us or any of our neighbours that we know of,” Harper said. “I don’t know what the solution is but just wanted to share this information with you.”

Bear Aware Coordinator Sue Davies said she does not know what the solution may be as Bear Aware has no position with regard to highway signs but indicated that she was willing to ask the Revelstoke Bear Aware Society board of directors for an opinion.

However, such signs do exist on other provincial roadways such as Highway 95 in the Columbia Valley. They are the responsibility of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Please click here to visit a ministry web page regarding signs.

Interestingly enough, the BC Conservation Foundation maintains a little-known website that tells drivers how to deal with ildlife on the road. Click here to visit that site.