In an effort to lessen the delicious options for food-seeking bears, volunteers are getting ready for the first annual food drive at Christina Lake. On Saturday, Oct. 1 volunteers will get together to pick fruit and vegetables at homes whose owners may not be able to harvest everything they have. The harvest will be distributed to the home owners, the food bank, and volunteers.
“We’re hoping to turn this into an annual event,” said Doreen McCrindle, volunteer organizer. “There really are no losers in this case. We’re hoping to reduce bear attractants thereby keeping the public and bears safe and helping families in need as well.”
McCrindle, founder of the Help Save the B.C. Black Bears Facebook site now known for stopping the Ministry of Environment from shooting up to 24 human-habituated bears found at a drug bust at Christina Lake last fall, started the food drive in hopes of creating more bear awareness at the lake. Although she lives in Calgary, her outrage at the suggestion that the bears would be killed without any attempt to rehabilitate them into the wild made her step into action.
“I was angry at the thought that they were going to get all of these docile bears together in one place and have a massacre,” McCrindle explains. “So that’s how I got involved and it snowballed from there. What I think we have to focus on now, as well as the Fife bears, is to focus on what the community can do to prevent this kind of situation in the future.”
Her hopes of preventing future reoccurrences of wildlife feeding led her to the idea of the food drive with three aims: to reduce bear attractants at people’s properties to reduce bear-human contact, to promote bear awareness and to help families in need.
McCrindle says that the conservation office will be on hand to answer questions about bears, and the Christina Lake Stewardship Society has been doing the on-the-ground organizing for the event. Lorne and Norma Priestly have funded the Facebook group’s work and are sponsoring this event.
Families are welcome to participate in the food drive and hot beverages as well as snacks will be available for volunteers. Volunteers can start gathering at 9:30 a.m. at the Christina Lake Welcome Centre and the picking will start around 10. People with orchards or veggies to pick can connect with McCrindle or the Stewardship Society before Saturday, and volunteers are asked to sign up in advance as well, but are welcome to just show up.
“There are people out there that are quite concerned and it’s heartening to see,” says McCrindle. “We’re looking for as many volunteers as we can. It should be a fun event for all involved.”
Christina Lake Stewardship Society: 250-447-2504