This article follows the story of the conservation officer who refused to kill the cubs and explains his story and his reasoning. It outlines the on-going battle with the bureaucracy.

Getting Started

Introduction to the article (perhaps by having everyone read it)

This article deals with the relationship between people and wildlife and their ability or need to co-exist. Increasingly, there are reports of animals “intruding” into populated areas and the concern for public safety. Some animals obviously present more of a nuisance than a threat but there are increasing concerns about what are proving to be more dangerous animals. Coyotes are appearing more frequently and posing a threat to family pets, livestock and, indeed, small children. Just recently, wild hogs were discovered just east of Toronto. Civic authorities are providing guidelines for people should they encounter these intruders but are not suggesting that they be culled. This is resulting in friction between residents and local governments. This lesson will have the students explore this issue from a variety of perspectives and attempt to establish a consensus on the best course of action to be taken to resolve this problem.

Subject Area(s) covered

Environmental studies, biology, politics, world issues.

New Terms to explain

Human habituated

Materials Needed

Access to the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity

Key things students can learn from this lesson

  • A clarification of human obligation to manage and interact with the natural world in a positive and responsible manner;
  • An understanding of the ethical issues around euthanizing animals that come in contact with humans;
  • A realization of options to simply euthanizing animals on the fringes of society.

Action (here’s how we’ll do it)

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students if they have read recently of any instances during which people have encountered wild animals in their neighbourhood and are concerned about those events.
  • Have them list some of the animals identified and the reasons for the concern.
  • Indicate to them that the lesson will focus on the events surrounding a conservation officer who refused to euthanize two black bear cubs and the issues raised by that refusal.
  • Divide the class into five groups and assign the following task to the groups:

Your group will be assigned one of the following specific roles and you are to read the article from that perspective and prepare a presentation during which you explain how you think this problem of interaction between humans and wild animals should be resolved.

    • A conservation officer;
    • A resident of one of the affected areas who has three small children;
    • A subdivision developer who is worried about the impact the presence of these animals will have on his/her ability to sell houses;
    • A devoted hunter
    • A conservationist active in local affairs.
  • Once you have assigned the roles, allow the students time to read the article, discuss their reactions and prepare their presentation.

Consolidation of Learning

  • Have each of the groups present their position and respond to any questions or comments from the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria

The students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding that humans have a duty to manage their interactions with the natural world in a responsible manner.
  • Be able to articulate criteria that must be used in determining the need to euthanize a wild animal.
  • Be able to outline various alternatives when considering what should be done with animals that intrude into human settings.

Confirming Activities including

  • Once the presentations have been completed, the class should engage in a plenary session during which they attempt to reach a consensus on actions which should be taken to address the threat presented by intrusive animals.

Helpful Internet Searches

Activities to do together

  • Students could examine their local community to determine if human-wildlife interaction is increasing and, if so, identify the animals concerned and explain not only the reason for this increased interaction but also any actions being taken to remedy this situation.