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.