Today I stumbled onto a story that seems to prove to me that we (as humans) often overlook the root cause of a problem. By overlooking the root cause, we often prescribe solutions that not only solve the wrong problem, sometimes we actually complicate the problem with unintended consequences. Have a read below and see if you can see where I am going with this.
The article in the Toronto Star today describes a bear being shot by the authorities because it was “foraging too close humans”.
At first glance, this seems to make quite a bit of sense. But let’s take 2 seconds to think about this problem and see if it really is as logical as it seems.
Jeannie (the bear) had a bear cub, and for years had been part of the Whistler community she called home. Tourists and residents alike enjoyed catching her in photographs and occasionally providing food for the bear. This bear was known to be friendly to humans, so why would it suddenly need to be shot?
Due to a sub standard crop of natural foliage, Jeannie was getting hungry and as a result foraging closer and closer to populated areas.There were reports of Jeannie trying to “hip check” her way into a community center for food.
So this would seem to be justification for a group of people to get together and decide that “they have the answer, let’s shoot the bear”. I’m sure they put a lot of soul-searching into the decision. Sadly if they had just directed that energy towards finding a possible alternate solution, things could have been very different.
The problem I see as the “root cause” is that the bears don’t have adequate food supply this season. To me an obvious and more humane solution involves providing alternate food sources in their natural habitat and replenish them till the end of the season. This would allow the bears to weather this season, and result in them being less aggressive with foraging. The other huge benefit is that Jeannie would be alive to raise her own young.
How much do you think it costs to hand raise a young bear? What are the ramifications of having a young bear cub hand raised? Won’t the cub now imprint with humans and eventually be more prone to getting close to humans in the future?
Will we hear about Jeannie’s cub being shot for the same faulty reason in 10 years?
Unfortunately this kind of failure to look ’2 steps forward’ is prevalent in our own personal decisions, public policy and in the private sector. Is it human nature?
Maybe I’ve missed something in my analysis, and maybe providing food to the bears isn’t feasible. Do you have some insight into why my solution wouldn’t be possible? Do you have information that indicates that someone did evaluate this and decided it made no sense at all? Stick all your thoughts into the comment box and we’ll discuss!