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COMMENTARY · 5th October 2012
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat is a community which harmonizes both nature and industry. We have hiking trails, bears, fishing spots, bears, public parks, bears, wildlife… Um… did I mention bears?

Ok, the wildlife around Kitimat is more than just bears. Majestic Eagles soar over head. At night, I occasionally hear an owl hooting in the distance as I’m drifting off to sleep.

It is difficult to drive to Terrace without noticing the eagles around the river. However, over the years of working for the Kitimat Daily, I’ve accumulated quite a number of wildlife stories, only a few of which have been fit to see print.

Below, are the best wildlife stories, some I have never shared on the Daily. None of these have dates attached them and I have kept stories out of here where wildlife had to be put down.

On a snowy winter day, I had been sent on a wild goose chase to follow up on some rumour on the Kitamaat Village road. Driving slowly through the falling snow, I spotted a pair of deer traveling along the same road. There is little to say, I stopped the car, watched them, tried to get a picture. When they noticed me, they bounded off the road into the brush.

I was driving to Terrace when I saw a black bear just standing there on the side of the road. The bear was standing on a corner and watched me go by. There were no other cars coming. I looked back through my rear view mirror. The bear crossed the highway, a small cub following behind it. I was impressed, a bear was teaching it’s cubs to look both ways before crossing the highway.

One year, as the Canada Day Parade started up, a black bear bounded out of the woods in front of the sirens, crossed the road in front of the Legion and re-entered the woods in a spot between the parade goers.

Another time, I was delivering papers to the Chalet and someone called to me to let me know to give the tree in the front a lot of room. There was a bear cub up there and the mother was nowhere to be seen. The bear was later rescued and taken to the Northern Lights Wild Life Society in Smithers. It was named Jack Chalet, for Jack Oviatt had played a role in his rescue and the bear cub had been rescued from the Chalet.

Driving to a job fair in September, I had a bear cross the road in front of me at the old hospital site. Not much to say, it was unexpected. I’ve also seen bears cross the road around me as I drive friends home. One night I even watched a bear set off a car alarm.

But my personal favourite:

I was driving home from a friend’s house with another friend in the winter months of 2009. It was late and there were no other cars driving up Haisla Hill. As we approached the overpass, a deer hops over the snow bank and crosses the road in front of me.

I have enough time to stop so I do so. The deer crosses the road and just as I’m getting ready to start going, a second deer leaps out over the snow bank and crosses followed by a third. None of them stop, there is no deer in the headlights moment.

I counted 5 deer that night including one which was already on the other side of the highway. No further deer jumped out in front of me.

Encounters like these remind me why Kitimat is special. They remind me just how integrated the community is with nature and how it would be a shame to lose this.
Apparently not everyone shares your views.
Comment by Brian on 8th October 2012
I discovered recently that an individual from Europe who visited Canada every year to fish, stopped coming a few years ago because, for some reason, after coming for many years, a Fisheries Officer in the Terrace area started to continually harass him. It got to the stage that the harassment would start from day one of his annual vacation, with statements from the Officer like, “I remember you from last year”.

Not only did these actions chase away one individual, but each year there were many newcomers who came as a result of hearing about the good fishing from Herb, and these too stopped because, as one told me, when word of what had happened to Herb leaked out, many, like Herb, who had lived under Nazi occupation during the war equated this with the treatment they had received by the Gestapo, a fact which alone is enough to keep many tourists away, and none of them could understand either why it is necessary for Canadian Fisheries Officers to be armed, although with the attitude they have the need for self-protection is understandable.

Well, as a firm conservationist I think this Officer is to be commended for his persistence because he has managed to save, on an average, about 3 salmon for each tourist he stopped, and it has only cost the Canadian economy thousands, and thousands, and thousands of dollars.

We now come to another instance also to do with these ‘Conservationists’.

Apparently over the weekend there was an incident at the lake in which a Conservation Officer was called about a bear that had climbed onto a porch, because obviously it had smelled the cooking from inside. The inhabitants were not in any danger because this was only a very, very, small baby cub, about the size of a dog, and certainly only a fraction of the size of the bear on TV shown climbing onto a porch in southern BC, which was chased away by the unarmed lady of the house.

When the Officer arrived this baby, finding that it could not get any food from the household, was sitting up a tree eating berries of some sort and no one was in any danger. However, as the story goes, instead of just leaving it, and either waiting till it came down and telling it to go away, or telling the complainants to do this, which it certainly would have done, this man was determined to shoot it, which he did.

To make matters worse, he did not even do this in a humane manner. This baby could have been killed with only one shot, to prevent suffering on it’s part, but he chose instead to prolong it’s suffering by shooting it 3 times.

Regardless, I would appreciate if Senior Management from BC Conservation could please explain how killing babies of any species can be classified as ‘Conservation’.

After all, in my dictionary ‘Conservation’ is defined as “An occurrence of improvement by virtue of preventing loss, injury or other change”, something certain idiots seem to be totally unaware of.