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Protecting Bears, Not People
by Alan Caruba
19 July 2003 Bears!

Common sense would suggest that bears and humans are not really intended to live close to one another, but tell that to the bears!


We have definitely lost our wits in this nation. Right now, there’s a proposed piece of legislation seeking sponsors in the House of Representatives that would afford more protection to bears than people.

Common sense would suggest that bears and humans are not really intended to live close to one another, but tell that to the bears! In New Jersey where I live, we are currently up to our elbows in bears. Some estimates put the figure at around 3,200. People don’t mind seeing them in zoos, but they take exception to seeing them in their backyards or, increasingly, in their homes.

New Jersey drivers hit 15 bears in 1995. By last year, 66 had become bumper fodder. In 1995, there were 285 complaints of damage and nuisance that included home entries, attacks on dogs and livestock, rummaging through garbage cans, et cetera. By 2002, the number of complaints received had hit more than 1,400 and those did not include another thousand attended to by specially trained local police.

Of course, the “animal rights” lunatics put the blame on people who actually want to live somewhere other than a densely packed city. These are people who want to have a home of their own, otherwise known as “the American dream.”

Typical of animal rights tactics everywhere, the New Jersey loonies are trying to pack the Fish and Game Council with their own people, having induced a politician to introduce legislation to achieve this goal. The objective, of course, is to make it impossible to hunt or manage any one of the animal species that represent either recreation or a public nuisance. The Star-Ledger, the largest daily in the State, has editorialized that “Activists, who start from the position that people are the problem, routinely oppose hunts by demonstrating and sometimes seeking court orders,” adding that “Turning over the council to the very people who oppose its basic mission is the wrong way to go. Allowing those who oppose hunting completely, however sincere they may be, is a remarkably bad way to regulate hunting.”

You’d think that politicians would be smart enough to side with humans since bears cannot vote. You’d be wrong. Right now, H.R. 1472 (Don’t Feed the Bears Act) is making its way once again through the House seeking co-sponsors. By late June, 129 members of the House had signed on. The proposed law would ban hunting bears on federal land using the baiting method. Such a ban, if successful, would be emulated at the state level because the anti-hunting crowd would lobby for it State by State. Of the 27 States that permit the hunting of bears, at least 9 permit baiting.

Let’s get something straight; hunting bears is the best method of managing the bear population and it has a long history, not just among sportsmen, but ranging back to the earliest history of man. In modern times, most States have done a good job of managing bear populations and limiting the prospect of bear-human confrontations by permitting hunting seasons. Suffice it to say that bears are not an “endangered species.”

So the problem is not managing bears. The problem is the growing chorus of “animal rights” advocates that do not want bears hunted for any reason, including the perfectly sensible one that failure to do so will only increase the real problems that occur when too many bears run smack up against the residential preferences of humans.  This is not about too many people “intruding” into bear habitat. This is about too many bears

Alan Caruba is the author of "Warning Signs," published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.


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