Letters to the Editor: Jan. 23

Snow issues; Bear populations; Learn to Winter Walk; Dangerous intersection

Help for snow issues

The arrival of snow brings out a whole range of emotions: joy at the thought of skiing in our Cranbrook wonderland, resignation at the thought of all the inevitable shoveling, and for many people, fear at the thought of trying to walk on sidewalks not cleared of snow.

Snow covered walks make it difficult for anyone with mobility issues to navigate. Walkers, strollers, and wheelchairs get stuck, small dogs or children get covered in snow, and it often becomes slippery, sloshy, or icy.

One of the easiest ways to make a difference in the life of a senior is to make sure your sidewalks are shoveled. And better yet, after your sidewalk is cleared, think about your neighbours. Is anyone sick or recovering from an injury? Who might need your assistance in getting their sidewalk shoveled? Has anyone gone out of town? Walking as a means of transportation only works when all the walks are cleared, and sometimes this takes a collective effort.

There are two formalized snow removal programs in Cranbrook. If you are in need of snow shoveling, or if you are able to help by shoveling for others, please contact one of the following:

Charlene Turner, the Volunteer Services Manager, Canadian Mental Health Association- Kootenays, at 250 426-5222 ext 3034 (volunteerkootenays@gmail.com) . All CMHA programs or services are free for those who are eligible.

Or Laurie Harris, Program Coordinator – Better at Home, 250 426-2943 ( betterathome@ccssebc.com ) . Better at Home programs provides a range of non-medical support services aimed at helping seniors remain independent for longer.

Together, let’s keep Cranbrook’s sidewalks cleared, and get out and enjoy the winter.

Charlene Sperling/Cranbrook Age Friendly Coordinator

Grizzly Bear Populations

Re: Recent public meeting in Jaffray, concerning grizzly bears and the increase in local human-bear conflict

We respect the fact that our local MLA Tom Shypitka and RDEK representative Stan Doehle were able to put the important public meeting in place and thank all those involved for participating.

Though we could not attend, it is our understanding that the result is the realization of a huge increase in bear activity and that public safety must be paramount.

Many cumulative effects have brought the bear populations to where they are today, but the fact that we no longer hunt grizzly bears is a major factor in the over-all problem. The fact that [Free Press Editor] Phil McLachlan and our MOE biologist Holger Bohm disagree with Tom that the closing of the grizzly bear hunt for just one season has no effect on current populations is true to some form, but the important factor to remember and one our MLA understands and perhaps didn’t explain to its full context is that the hunting of grizzly bears has been restricted since 1982 here in the East Kootenay.

That’s right — 38 years of limited entry hunting. This means that every year except 2000, when there was no hunt at all, the hunting community has had to apply for a limited number of tags which is monitored through a complicated process that has been set up through the Ministry in charge in Victoria.

In 1995, the Grizzly Bear conservation strategy was implemented and once again the hunting community was further restricted with regards to how many permits were put out every spring to a point at times that there was only one permit per hunting management unit, or it was closed entirely. It would be difficult for anyone to dispute the fact that the hunting of grizzly bears has been conservatively regulated and restricted in our area for years.

Since 1978/1979, we have been researching grizzly bears in the Flathead every year up to and including 2018. Countless bear studies have taken place throughout the rest of the East Kootenay as well over the last 20 years. The majority of those studies have been paid for through funding from the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund which is funded by money collected from Hunters / Fisherman / Trappers & Guide Outfitters in the form of a tax that is collected from them when purchasing their licenses and tags. That’s 40 years of bear studies, and yet were are told we need to do more research.

I agree that bear populations should be monitored, but the fact that we now have such an abundance of bears tells me that 38 years of extremely restrictive hunting coupled with managing top level carnivores based on the political pressure of the time has resulted in the issues we are dealing with today. It is time to put grizzly bear management back in the hands of experts who use a science-based wildlife model.

If the choice is made to manage wildlife based on politics rather than science, the continuation and advocacy of bear studies and population estimates are not going to mean much and we have to be prepared to deal with the consequences of those actions.

Some may support the direction that wildlife management is taking in this province, but most of those people live in “concrete jungles”. For the ones that live rurally, we are forced to deal with the issues first hand and we must forge ahead. Do your part, keep your garbage inside, clean your fruit trees off, keep the barbecue hidden, demand that bears need to be managed instead of paying the CO service to kill them, allow the hunting community to be utilized as an effective management tool while contributing a huge economic stimulus to the local and provincial coffers!

Bear research has proven just how crucial bear habitat is in maintaining healthy bear populations and movements, and yet very little funding has been directed locally to on the ground bear habitat improvement. Bears are opportunistic — if the habitat is not suitable, they will roam to alternate food sources.

Studies have also shown that road densities may have a negative impact on bears. In the Kootenays, the Elk / Bull / & Flathead River systems are full of access management areas which include vast road-less areas for bears to roam. The trench on the other hand is quite the opposite with wide open road access, yet we have all these bears leaving the backcountry to come into areas full of roads and people. As any bear hunter will attest, bears often utilize roads for travel, so I’m not convinced that the road density argument holds water.

So what is going on in the backcountry? Poor habitat or an over population of bears, or both combined? Perhaps we should start directing more money toward ensuring sufficient bear habitat work and less on studies!

Kent & Cheryl Petovello/Elko, BC

Let Us Learn To Winter Walk!

You may see me reeling a bit or walking ‘on the bias’, but it’s not from dope or drink! Olivia Newton John gives the explanatory song (‘Let’s Get Physical’) with lyrics altered – leading to an important general topic:

“I got vertigo! Vertigo!

I didn’t want vertigo!

Since I got the Vertigo …

Let me learn to Winter Walk! To Winter Walk!” etc.

Yes, Winter Walk. There is much talk about Winter Driving; why not Winter Walking? Since vertigo plays against brain-to-body communication, I must focus carefully on walking skills for balance and steadiness, especially. Those skills can apply to us all on slippery streets and sidewalks:

1) Make walking Job 1. Not texting, window-gazing, or ranting at Trump or Trudeau.

2) Step straight to the ground, quite the opposite (hooray) of Nazi goose-stepping. ‘Tramp’ with heel and toe touching down at same time, a broad surface area rather than just edge-of-the-heel.

3) Look ahead, plan ahead for stops and turns. Avoid jerky moves or sudden direction-shifts.

4) Step on gritty or crunchy (not glossy) ground when you can – but if gloss is boss, #2) rules!

5) Seek a helping family/friend/stranger at any obstacle. Offer help to others. “We’re all in this together” was never more true.

6) As in driving, suit your speed to weather and surface conditions.

7) Shush your companions’ chitchat if needed, so you all can focus on step-by-step stepping.

8) No sidewalk? Walk on Left facing traffic! That rule used to be drummed into schoolkids. How can you react to anything going awry if you don’t see it?

9) Enjoy the science of energy travel, bone-to-bone lineup, and a solid foot plant (not face plant).

10) Good footwear goes without saying, but conditions do vary! Big Kamiks are ideal for deep snow; but loose flip-flopping in those boots might make for a liability at barely freezing. See again No. 2).

Besides saving health care demands including mega-dollars, Winter Walking may prevent broken-bone agony and loss of work time, family time, fun time — or even life time. The brilliant car-designer Amos Northup, out for a newspaper in early 1937, slipped on ice. He smashed his head on a Detroit sidewalk — and died two days later at age 47.

It’s no joke. Let us learn to Winter Walk.

Arne Sahlen/Kimberley

Dangerous Intersection

It’s good to hear the City is thinking ahead about safety issues caused by increased traffic on Theatre Road.

We would like to point out that the intersection of Theatre Road, Mission Road and Highway 95A is even more concerning as the traffic is increasing. Accidents there are more frequent and the 80 km per hour speed limit on the highway makes these incidents more serious.

Something needs to be done soon to make this intersection safer as well.

Pat and Ann Rice/Cranbrook

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