I’ve loved animals all my life. I am soft-hearted when it comes to the furry and feathered ones. Pretty much all I was familiar with growing up were domestic animals of one kind or another.
On camping trips we would see the occasional black bear in Oregon, but they were elusive and rare.
Living in Smithers, or actually, I should say out of town by the river, I have been around more wild animals than I would have ever imagined. Bears, deer, moose are all frequent visitors to our property. Fox, porcupine, and critters of smaller varieties come to visit too.
In the last years, I have found a real love for all the birds and owls that live around our home. Everything from eagles, geese, sandhill cranes, hummingbirds, a variety of owls, and a multitude of wild songbirds and Robins. I love the chorus of bird songs I wake up to every day. I keep a diary of when the geese, cranes and hummingbirds arrive and leave every year.
In the camping trips my hubby and I have ventured out in the remote backcountry, we have come across herds of caribou, a cinnamon black bear, timber wolves (yes I was scared of those, but fascinated too). We watched a migration of hundreds of voles across Babine lake, which startled me at first as I thought it was a mass suicide. But those tiny little guys motored on across the lake and I came to find out it’s a yearly event.
When I lived at Babine Lake and River, black bears and grizzly bear were constant company. I even had the great fortune to see a cinnamon black bear, only once. Bears were around so often, we gave them names. We would see the same ones with their babies year after year. It was an incredible experience.
I had an open-air screened box where I kept butter, syrup, things like that in, to keep cool and it and looked like regular cupboards from inside. One morning I opened both cupboard doors to grab some butter, and froze. Not two feet from my face was the face of a huge black bear looking at me as shocked as I was. We both froze. Him eating my butter, me with my mouth open too afraid to move.
We caught our senses at the same time, I slammed the cupboards, and he ran. I’ll never forget being so close, looking straight into the eyes of something so wild and beautiful. For some reason, after that I didn’t fear them as much as I had a healthy respect for them. I love them, but from a much greater distance than that!
What I dislike with a passion is the killing of animals for sport. I completely understand the kills for harvest, but not for trophy hunting or the stupidity of killing and leaving them.
There was a Kermode Bear (an albino black bear, also known as a Spirit Bear). You could, if lucky, spot at the “potato patch” between Smithers and Terrace. It was there year after year. My husband had the great honour to spot and even photograph this beautiful and rare bear once. I hadn’t heard of any sightings in the last year or so, and asked around. I was told someone on the highway shot it and left it. I was horrified. It is a protected and revered bear, that some people look their entire life to spot, and someone killed this one for no good reason. I think that is an abhorant move and it’s a crime.
People come from all over the world to see the magnificent animals we have. We are lucky enough to have them and we need to respect them. If you have the great fortune to see them, take pictures, admire their beauty, remember it is their natural home, and we are the intruders.