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Successful Bear Advocacy Through Positive Educational Outreach
From Brendan Garrett - 1 Mar 2008

My friends and friends of the bears,

I get the feeling that already this bear discussion cc list has gotten off to a less than fantastic start as some of us have already begun sending out some negative energy. There is nothing wrong with informing others of the realities of bad things happening (which there most certainly are all the time) as well there is nothing wrong with venting our emotions about bad things that upset us; but as I have not only known but have been completely foolishly ensnared by for far too long is the reality that if you focus on the negative and reflect negativity back, nothing good comes of it and you will only hurt yourself and achieve nothing. I have been told this again and again by several people who are much wiser and more experienced with things than I.

The only way to bring a positive change is to be positive. And so I will do so. Steve Stringham put it very well in the email previous to this one and another close friend of mine, whose work on encouraging bear-human coexistence around the Vancouver area has been very effective, said it best, and even had a miraculous story to tell me:

As I said in a previous email, I enjoy hearing from you. What I do not enjoy nor accept anymore are emails with any negative “go-after-them” points of view towards people who hunt or don’t yet understand bears. I firmly have come to realize that those people are only fuelled by that type of attack to hurt bears more.

The ONLY way to help our bears is to spread the word about their true, wonderful natures, their intelligence and their extreme patience with humans, while working towards legal ways to improve situations that endanger bears.

I can no longer look at any pictures or videos of bears being abused or hurt. I have seen it firsthand and have photos that cannot be shown to any person because they are so disturbing. I know firsthand what is happening to bears out there. Seeing more doesn’t help me. All my energies are put into POSITIVE work and education of people and getting people, companies and contractors, and city officials to improve situations and make important changes so that people and bears can live peacefully in close proximity.

Educating in positive ways does change people’s hearts and when the majority of people understand then the government HAS to listen. Small groups of people making demands and screaming of horrors going on are classified as “bunny huggers” not only by government but by people who are ignorant and in need of education.

For the past 3 years I had a man in Golden who had hunted bears, who hated my work and attacked me all the time verbally and once almost physically- through it all I just smiled at him and shared my thoughts peacefully. (I did shed some tears in private but never was I negative to him.) Last year that man came to me and said “I owe you an apology. I was wrong and you were right. I will never again hunt a bear. I hope you will accept my apology.” That is all he said. Of course I accepted and the best part of all- he had his two young sons with him. They had just learned something that will stay with them for their lives. How many generations were changed by positive action right there?

If I had been awful to him and tried to change him using negative tactics I know he would not have changed. I hope you can understand what I am saying and why I don’t want any more emails from people who attack those who they deem as the “enemy”. They aren’t. They just don’t yet understand. Look at the group who have helped the polar bears gain recognition for their plight. Not a single negative action- just persistence and education.

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