Wednesday, December 14, 2005

License to kill

Hunters shot a new state record 4,123 black bears in the state's recently concluded bear season, according to the preliminary reports by the Pennsylvania Game Commission

A 733 pound male was the largest bear killed in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey Bear Hunt Ends With 280 Kills

About 280 bears were killed in New Jersey's six-day hunt aimed at thinning out the burgeoning population, which ended with more than 100 protesters waiting for hunters to emerge from the woods with their kills.

The hunt ended shortly after dusk Saturday with fewer bears killed than the 328 bagged in 2003, according to preliminary figures.

Black bears, once near extinction in the state, are now a common sight, menacing people, scampering through yards and rummaging in trash.

I know reasonable resolution of the conflict between people and wild animals is a complicated issue, but there ought to be a better way than letting people pay for the joy of killing something. Bears come by here regularly. They pass through, going about bear business and agitating the dogs. Once, a bear tore a board off the side of our house. Now and then I’ve had to get up in the night to drag a barking dog out from under a treed bear. But mostly, we stay out of each other’s way.

It would give me no pleasure to kill a bear. 40 years ago I lost the ability to understand killing for pleasure and it still amazes me to see so many that think of it as fun. The way I see it, killing animals to make more room for people ought to be generally considered an odious task, like hauling trash or digging graves, and should require high pay to get someone to do it. But then there’s a huge amount of industry, from boots to guns, dedicated to feeding the illusion of wilderness for pretend woodsman. Truth is, there is no wilderness, only parks; no woodsmen, only dressed up folks from the suburbs; no wild animals, only semi tame deer eating the shrubs and bears looking for a box of donuts.

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