Friday, March 04, 2005
New Jersey Black Bear Hunt
Personally, I couldn't execute a black bear (Ursus americanus). I find the very thought abhorrent. In our western view, bear meat is considered poor quality and, although a hunter could eat bear if he were determined to treat the killed animal with the respect it is due, bears are most often killed as trophies. This is, to my way of thinking, pathetic. Despite my belief that taxidermy is an under-appreciated art, I don’t like the idea of trophy killing and I detest the hunter's “hero shot,” a good example of which is provided above.
Apparently, the New Jersey bear hunt was closed because of protests by people who feel similarly to me. You might think that I should be pleased. I am not. The protestors chose to ignore facts in favor of feelings.
Whereas the Oregon forestry debate (discussed yesterday) finds me siding with the preservationists, today I am siding with the wildlife biologists. The Oregon forest is too grand to monitor effectively; a “let nature run her course” approach is most sensible. New Jersey bear populations, however, can be monitored and managed. The NJ Fish & Game permit system will prevent overkill, as biologists carefully study bear numbers prior to the hunting season.
Human sprawl, of course, is to blame for our encroaching on black bear habitat. In other words, it is our population that most needs to be checked, not that of the black bear. Still, the fact that the New Jersey bear populations are healthy enough to merit a state sanctioned hunt is a good sign. If range, mating behavior and food supply are all taken into account, a carefully controlled take is sustainable. Moreover, it should help the remaining bears live better lives.
Note: Outdoor Life is a terrible magazine. I am a hunter and fisherman, but I am embarrassed by the magazine's shameless glorification of the very ignorance I detest.
Photo credit: I could not find a photo credit for the bear "hero shot."