It breaks my heart when I read about bears being killed because they were eating from trash cans or wandering neighborhoods. A black bear cub shot last week in Hailey is the latest tragedy in a year when wildlife sightings, captures and kills are on the rise in our valley.

We choose to live in this beautiful place because we appreciate the mountains, forests and rivers that lie right outside our doors and the wildlife that roams here. Because we all choose to live next to Idaho’s amazing nature, we should do as much as we can to protect our wildlife neighbors.

Many of these bear killings likely could have been avoided if we took a moment to be “bear smart.” A bear’s sense of smell is seven times greater than a bloodhound’s. They can detect and remember the location of pet food, garbage, barbecue grills and bird feeders.

You can take simple steps to avoid conflicts. If we keep our trash cans in at night, use a bear-resistant trash can, and clean up after ourselves when we go out hiking, camping and picnicking, bears won’t come to our homes or become used to us.

We also need to keep other wildlife, like mountain lions, from food sources. We can be “mountain lion aware” by keeping a watchful eye on our pets when we let them out.

Doing these easy, sensible things will keep our loved ones and pets safe, and keep wildlife from having to be killed. I hope we can come together and help protect the amazing wildlife that exists in our community.

To help, contact Idaho Fish and Game’s Jerome office asking for a policy review, so conservation officers know that shooting an animal should be a last resort.

Betsy Mizell, Ketchum

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