I Have a Gripe

August 7, 2011

Bear that Wandered into Stokes Campsite Killed

This week was a mix of lies, stories and excuses on a multiple of fronts. No, I’m not talking about the ongoing nonsense in D.C. – I’m talking about the killing of a black bear in Stokes State Forest.

According to the initial story, a bear attacked two young campers sending them to the hospital with minor injuries. The bear was shot (non kill shot) in the  neck and left the area wounded. A search continued until the bear was caught in a snare and killed.

Later it was learned the counselors jumped to conclusions about the event and the kids lied about being attacked, as doctors that examined the boys and determined their wounds were not fresh. It was also learned that the food at the camp site was not stored properly, which will always bring a bear curiously looking for an easy meal. DEP still classified this as a “Category One” bear, meaning, it displayed “aggressive behavior.”

This was a travesty on multiple fronts. First, the two camp counselors obviously didn’t stress bear safety and food storage properly to their campers. Next, you have two boys who lied about their encounter. You had a representative make an incredibly poor shot that failed to kill the animal the first time, so the bear headed off injured. Finally, the DEP stood by their initial decision, classifying this animal as a category one, setting traps and ultimately killing the bear. There is plenty of blame to go around.

Let’s remember this was an 18-month-old yearling who smelled food and set off looking for an easy meal. It was in a wooded area, not a residential neighborhood. Yearlings are on their own for the first time and are naturally curious about their area and new found independence. If you are in bear country, you need to understand how to store your food, and take important safety measures in order to minimize negative encounters. After all, you are now in their home. My husband and I often fish in bear country and we are always armed with whistles and bear spray and are sure to stay alert and aware of our surroundings. This is just common sense.

These suburbanites need to understand the ramifications of their actions that resulted in the death of a young bear.

Now to clarify, I am not “anti-hunt.” I believe it is important to hunt responsibly, following all safety regulations as a way to control population by “thinning the herd” and avoid starvation by these animals in the winter. Additionally, all hunters I know consume what they harvest, using it as a food source. At the same time, Jersey needs to stop building strip malls in every open space. It is because of the lack of open space that you see more and more wildlife coming into residential areas.

This is a very unfortunate example of ill-prepared counselors, lying kids and over-zealous officials. I hope they all understand the ramifications of their actions.

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