Don’t underestimate the power of your story. And remember…. the public responds to individuals; they have trouble relating to populations. Even broad and generic terms are difficult to relate to. It’s better to promote your cause through the life and challenges of one bear, who has a name, a family, friends, alliances, rivals and things to do each day. Because bears are actually not that unlike us. Find the similarities and invite people to become a part of their lives.
Whether you're an educator, resident, scientist or wildlife officer, as someone who cares about bears, it's your job to spread the bear smart word - choosing your words carefully. Words are powerful. They can find their way deep into the very fabric of our being and belief systems, shaping our thoughts and actions. Words influence our perceptions and affect attitudes. They can inspire and encourage the right behaviour; or hinder and create apathy and inaction.
An excerpt from a report about the effectiveness of the BC Bear Smart Community Program. It reveals some very important, and often overlooked issues. First of all, people have lost their connectedness to the ecosystem. They see themselves as "being above the ecosystem and not part of it." This disconnect between people and their natural environment and the wild animals they share it with has caused a general lack of empathy which has lead to an unwillingness to protect them. We must find ways to reconnect people to the animals we share the planet with, before we can expect them to do their part to save them.
Are you feeling devastated by the high number of bears getting killed, yet working with tireless determination to create a bear smart movement? Does it sometimes feel like an overwhelming task? A thankless job? Like you take one step forward and two backwards? Do you feel as though you may be developing compassion fatigue? Sometimes when compassion is a one-way street; you give all of your energy and compassion to helping a cause, and aren't able to get enough back to reassure yourself that the world is a hopeful place.
Misconceptions about bears are very common. Check out these five things that people commonly do in bear country and shouldn't.