Black bear hunting

To the Editor:

No where to run. No where to hide. The slaughter's begun nationwide. Human's capacity for cruelty is infinite. Their justification, limitless. In Vermont, black bear hunting is particularly barbaric (pun intended). Training dogs with GPS collars to chase bears up trees not only puts the poor dog at risk of being attacked, but lulls the bears into thinking they will be safe - until, of course, hunting season when, terrorized and terrified, they are felled from their safest perch. Their playground, mating ground and family turf turned into a shooting gallery.

Black bears used to populate all 50 states, except Hawaii. Now, after being pushed out or wiped out, they inhabit 35. There is no accurate method of determining a black bear population. But there is a consensus of about 300,000 black bears in the United States, with 80,000 killed every year. According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the black bear population has doubled within the past two years, without any means of determining such. The mark-tag-follow method cannot be done, extrapolating from the yearly "harvest" is not reliable and an increase in human/animal contact is due to our encroachment into their habitat.

In order to maintain its $189,000,000 revenue from hunting every year, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife, the primary recipient of this money, must find new ways of promoting hunting like getting kids hooked at a young age, appealing to more women, and, most recently, catering to locavores in light of numerous nationwide food contamination's. And the dirty little no-so-secret secret of trafficking in bear gallbladders and its bile has a very lucrative black market and a very profitable domestic one. Trafficking in black bear gallbladders is legal in Vermont. The gallbladders are crushed and powdered and sent to China for male sexual enhancement and Korea for a hangover cure. But most scientists will tell you there are no sound medicinal purposes for bear bile. Are unbridled market forces dictating this ruthless and cruel exploitation of bears by humans?

It is astounding how many people move to the country and are unnerved by the sighting of a wild animal on their property. Some of these people leave their trash outside at night and blame the bear for trespassing on their property. So, in response, they either shoot the animal or call the game warden to do so. Why can't they be tranquilized? These so-called nuisance bears are guilty of an acute sense of smell, wanting to eat and roaming across fields and woods like, well, wild animals.

The sadistic custodians of our wildlife have begun a campaign to demonize black bears to make hunting more palatable. From blaming them for horse mauling, over-population and becoming an increased nuisance, these officials neglect to mention these bears are timid, unaggressive, intelligent, independent and sentient beings that deserve greater respect. If there is no provision in the new Sportsman's Act that prohibits the killing of mother and baby bears under the excuse that hunters can't tell the difference between male and female bears, then, for this reason alone, hunting black bears should be banned. Inflating the numbers of existing bears so they can be "managed" and calling this ecologically sound, discouraging property owners from posting their land so hunters have more access to killing ignores the fact that many of us like being able to walk in our woods, work outside and enjoy the wild without the fear of getting shot. And extending the bear hunting into their dens by creating two bear seasons (which is just one long one, considering hunters can kill a bear at any time during deer season), is particularly distasteful and should be removed from the Act. Instead of finding new ways to justify the hunt and preserve the hunting culture, these so-called wildlife specialists should focus their efforts on eradicating the tick infestation, chronic wasting disease and rabies as ways of protecting and preserving the wildlife we are blessed to live among.

Jessica Miller

Cabot, Vt.


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