Letters | Saving the bears just to hunt them?
August 22, 2012 · 4:23 PM
I went to the meeting regarding bears (July 17 in Snoqualmie). I don’t feed them, I find them interesting and want to ensure they are protected as much as we need to protect people. Most of the people at the meeting have had bear encounters and some take issue with the resident wildlife in the recently developed Snoqualmie Ridge (isn’t that why we moved here?).
I was neutral on the meeting until it became very evident that the state Fish and Wildlife employees presenting the meeting were being dishonestly manipulative. We were told about bears becoming habituated to the presence of people and how unmanaged garbage permanently changes a bear’s behavior. I don’t dispute that—I have done behavioral modification research as a profession. We were told about large numbers of bears being “scraped off of I-90” between Snoqualmie and North Bend, how it pains state game wardens to have to euthanize bears that become a “problem,” and how it is up to us to save the bears from this fate by keeping our garbage in our garage, or better yet, in our freezers.
Oh, really? This is where the presentation left me angry. The public was being manipulated into being cooperative by being told stories that would incite their desire to protect wildlife. This was being promoted by employees from the same state agency who were just tickled pink by their recent plan to massacre elk whose only crime was to mess up the grass on the golf course. This was being promoted by game wardens who sell permits to kill the very bears they want us to protect. They were baiting residents with sob stories so that bears will be driven to areas where they or their buddies can have an ample supply to kill. How’s that for a lesson in ethics?
Last year, one person was killed by a wild black bear in the United States. Between 2000 and 2010, seven people were killed by wild black bears in the U.S. In the 1990s, two people were killed by bears. However, every year there is an average of 160 hunting-related shootings, an average of 50 of which result in death of humans in the U.S—that’s every year. I’ll take my chances with the bears.
I find the actions of the state Fish and Wildlife employees abusive of the public trust, at best disingenuous and at worst dishonest and unethically manipulative of the public goodwill. If we are expected (actually coerced) by this state agency to take actions that drive bears into the nearby forests, then we should expect this same state agency to protect that wildlife from being abused and massacred by their hunter buddies for entertainment.