Unbearable Behavior

A whopping 8 hour drive north of Winnipeg, is a town called Norway House, Manitoba. It offers beauty in a face of fidget weather and friends in an unfamiliar territory. But a common tourist attraction may shock you and make you shake your head in disbelief.

When I first arrived in Norway House, a local resident, and now friend, asked me if I had been to the garbage dump yet, which seemed like a rather odd question. I didn’t know if I should take it offensively or if I should dare ask what he was talking about. After a look of great confusion and a moment of hesitant silence, he told me I really should visit the dump. It was only a few minutes away so he offered to take me. Although I was confused, I trusted my friend so I followed him to the dump!

I was at the dump only a few minutes when I saw several black bears rummaging through trash piles. I stood in shock and fear as my friend approached the bears slowly, until he was about 20 feet away. The bears casually glanced his way a few times, then continued to dig through the huge trash mounds.

I photographed the bears from the safety of the truck while my friend kept, what he referred to as, a safe distance. He offered to stand by my side if I wanted to get out of the truck but I opted for the non-running or fighting option when it came to approaching bears.

On the way home, a horrible, sick feeling lingered in my stomach. These bears had become so fat and lazy because of their access to the dump that they didn’t even bother to move when my friend approached. The bears have adopted a lasse fair attitude while gawkers watched as they pawed through the garbage and recycled eatable morsels.

These bears are becoming dependent on people for their food and I can’t see that behavior changing easily. Landfills should not be a feeding station for bears. What happens when the dump isn’t enough? Where will those bears go? My guess is that the large rocks covering the garbage bins in the community are not just for looks. If the garbage diet, including plastic and antifreeze, doesn’t kill the bears, the people will as dump bears eventually stray too near a person with a gun and the inevitable happens. This theory was proven time and time again as residents drove along the highway toward the community and were accompanied by bears.

What has become a common attraction for locals and tourists in Norway House, Manitoba and several other communities around the globe is a nightmare waiting to happen. Bears are wild animals and should be treated as such.

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18 thoughts on “Unbearable Behavior

  1. That’s trouble waiting to happen, I don’t know what the solution is, perhaps a stricter recycling policy. I know it’s not really a fair comparison but we have a similar problem with urban foxes in London. where I live close to Epping Forest the council collects food waste for recycling (along with plastics, metal and glass) and has given each house a secure bin to put the waste into. This means slimmer pickings for the foxes so we don’t see as many now. Mind you bears would be a completely different matter!

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    • I don’t know what the solution is either.

      The wild dog in the community were a similar problem. Now, each year, they have a “dog shoot”, where any untagged, wild dogs are shot. This is yearly activity! I understand the risks of wild, starving dogs scrounging for food in the winter months, but is this the solution?

      It seems like such a sin to me what we, as society, are doing to animals and their habitats.

      Thanks for reading though; I appreciate your comment.

      Lesley

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  2. I’ve spent so much time surrounded by excitement and adventure that I forget to actually “look” at the world around me sometimes. The reason why I felt so heart broken about the bears was that it is our fault in the first place that they are even there. Then, it is our fault that people in India an Kenya are there as well. The human race is a mysterious thing. I live in an area surrounded by people that have enough money to change the world, but they buy $100,000 cars and multi-million dollar houses; and I’m not sure I would do any different. So I guess my heart break about the bears is more heart break about society, me included.

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  3. Hi again, and a belated welcome to Manitoba, you were in my home town just over my birthday weekend! Anytime you are looking to visit Winnipeg again drop me a line and I’ll hook you up with all of the good places to see and go.

    My blog is all about Winnipeg and it’s environs so don’t be shy checking it out.

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  4. Hello from rural Manitoba! I’m pleased an international traveller visited and am delighted you read my blog. I adore travel, although rare. I’ve hit caves in 3 countries: love it, love it. I want to offer a little reassurance about bears. I live with black bears and have only spotted them once!

    A critter isn’t going to pass up a heavy food source like the dump you saw. I agree they sound too close to people in Norway House. Normally they avoid people, as I demonstrate. I only saw the young pair I did, because it was too dry for berry growth this summer. They had to resort to our bird feeders. They only risked it in the dark, which is when I vaguely glimpsed the two. I didn’t mind them taking through for what was desperately needed. When we took our feeders inside overnight, they stopped coming. They want no trouble, merely survival.

    Rest assured if the Norway House dump ran out, black bears would still be bears. Gathering there is better than in yards. Bears prefer privacy so I echo your hope that people aren’t dumb, leading those little guys to town. Good luck with your pregnancy!

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  5. I live in Manitoba and have been to a similar dump to see the bears. Not only are they being affected but now the deer in our area are so accustomed to being hand feed that one in particular walked into the grocery store to help himself! Wild animals are called such for a reason and we should be doing everything we can to preserve their name and well being. Just sayin’. 🙂

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