Educating Non-Hunters: Bears

The hunting of just about any animal has been a touchy subject as of late, but perhaps the most sensitive topic when it comes to hunting is the hunting of bears. The bear has been a symbol for many places and peoples, from the State of California to a being a large part of life in Europe. I would even be willing to bet that most of you grew up with a teddy bear in the house. Looking around you can see how some of the anti-hunting activists can get confused between that soft teddy bear and a 500lb grizzly.

Bear hunting in today’s world serves a very solid roll, just as it did back 200 years ago. Many areas rely in bear hunting to keep the area safe and relatively bear free. I’m not saying that we need to extinct, the bear, far from it, I’m actually saying that we need to hunt bears to instill a connection that people mean danger. Anti-Hunting groups would have you think that if a bear sees you it will respect you and keep its distance, but that is only true in areas where bear hunting is alive and active. There have been instances where hunting has been taken away, like in Alberta, Canada.

In May 2005 a grizzly approached a woman on a hiking trail; luckily she saw the bear in time enough to get away without incident. Soon after that though the bear was spotted on a golf course near Canmore, Alberta, causing golfers to fear the back nine. Due to the bear sightings wildlife biologists moved in and darted the bear with tranquillizer darts and moved it to Banff National Park, only about 12 miles away.

The bear was only relocated thanks to the biologist saying the bear was not aggressive, just because it hadn’t attacked anybody yet. The thought was that tranquillizing the bear would teach it that people are to be feared, but I don’t see how waking up in a new place teaches it anything. It seems our logic may be stronger than the biologist’s. Less than a month later the scientists followed the signal from the collar they placed on the bear, only to discover that the bear was back in the original area, this time it was ignored.

A short few weeks later a woman named Isabella Dube, who was a professional mountain bike racer, was jogging the trails with two friends. As the group came around a bend the bear spotted the group, the women saw the bear as well, two of the women made it out of the area, but Isabella didn’t. Her first instinct was to climb a tree, this proved to be a fatal decision. As the two women escaped from the area the sound of Isabella’s screams haunted their ears. An hour later the women returned with a game warden, the warden quickly acted and killed the bear who was still in the area.

To me this story just seems ridiculous. Had hunting been allowed in that area there is a good chance that the bear would have either been harvested or had a fear of people, which would make it want to avoid them. What Alberta did though is inexcusable.

After the 2005 season Alberta decided to full ban grizzly hunting due to the thought that the population was on the decline. The funny thing is that the Canadian government reported annually that the population was rising by 2-3 percent every year.

If you are like us and find this absolutely crazy, you should, because it isn’t an isolated incident. All throughout North America attacks are at an all-time high due to bears growing in number and growing bold.

There have been 131 human deaths in the 20th century due to bear attacks, 59 of which occurred in the last two decades. In comparison to 1930-1950 there was 7 attacks.

With people being attacked by bears it is a wonder that the government didn’t allow bear hunting. Alberta still doesn’t allow the hunting of grizzlies; some states here in the U.S. are reaping the benefits of bear hunting. During 2010 in Michigan, which has a low number of bear hunters, the license is $15, and only 110 were given, only 52 of which were filled. The big number for the state comes when you look at how you get the tag. In Michigan you must apply to draw for a bear tag, the cost is $4 per tag, we had 55,234 applicants, which means $220,936 plus the $1650 for the people who drew licenses. Sounds like a lot of money there that the state gets for free.

If you would like to see more states take the way of New Jersey and get into bear hunting then do your part and tell your state representatives that bear hunting is beneficial!

In the meantime though, spend some time harvesting those bear in the world of theHunter.

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[1] “Grizzly Bear Management,” a report compiled by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, February 24, 2004

[1] “Bear Management Unit Information” a section of information taken from the 2011 Michigan Bear Hunting Digest, for 2011

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