In response to the Salt Lake Tribune’s June 7 article, “Bear seize case illuminates darkish aspect of pursuing wildlife with canine for ‘sport’”:
The story and the accompanying video are about an incident that occurred three years in the past in Grand County, the place a black bear was chased by a pack of 9 hounds till it dropped from exhaustion, unable even to carry a paw to defend itself from being bitten. The canine weren’t referred to as off for about two minutes. Then the bear was put right into a canine field and reportedly launched once more a few days later to be pursued once more.
Bear and cougar pursuit with hounds is authorized in Utah. Individuals who interact in it are usually not after a kill, simply the joy of the chase. As well as, there are authorized hunts for these animals that sometimes additionally contain pursuing them with packs of hounds till they’re treed or cornered for a simple kill. There may be additionally bear baiting, which entails dumping a pile of smelly rubbish within the forest, then capturing the bear with an arrow when it exhibits up to take a look at the promise of a simple meal.
It was unlawful to not name the canine off instantly and to cage the bear. However was it honest chase? There isn’t any authorized definition of honest chase, however it’s normally defined as searching that offers the quarry an affordable probability of escape. Does bear baiting fulfill this definition? How about pursuing bears and cougars with hounds? It’s true that generally the quarry will get away, however it isn’t simple to do, particularly when, as usually occurs, an animal will get chased repeatedly.
Does being chased by hounds hurt the animals? Clearly, it didn’t do that specific bear any good. And what if it was a lactating feminine with cubs? (The story doesn’t say it wasn’t.) It’s unlawful in Utah to knowingly pursue or kill a bear or cougar with cubs, however hunters can not usually inform whether or not the animal being pursued is a lactating feminine till they catch it. The canine decide up the scent and nearly invariably carry the quarry to bay earlier than the hunter arrives. Virtually by no means is an enforcement officer on the scene.
Life within the wild is difficult for bears, notably in a drought when meals is scarce. The vitality price range is slim, particularly for sows with cubs. Will a bear struggling a calorie deficit from being chased grow to be extra susceptible to seek for a simple meal at a campground or cabin and find yourself hurting somebody? How are the bear and lion cubs affected if mother is killed or just isn’t producing sufficient milk? These are factual questions with ethical implications that must be addressed.
There aren’t any scientific research exhibiting that pursing bears or cougars with hounds, not to mention killing them typically hunts, is important for scientifically sound wildlife administration. As a substitute, there may be an abundance of analysis from the final 20 years exhibiting that, paradoxically, searching predators causes a few of the very conflicts with people it’s supposed to stop.
Regardless of this, a number of hundred bears and cougars are legally killed in Utah annually for sport and trophy. Then again, nobody has ever been killed by a cougar in Utah and solely two folks have been killed by black bears in current reminiscence — very hungry ones. These bears had been put down by the authorities.
Most individuals have by now come to worth wild animals as clever, sentient and emotional beings with their very own wants and pursuits. Maybe we’d do properly to study to stay peacefully with them.
If a bear or cougar ought to grow to be a major problem, it may be eliminated. However we should always not fake that consistently harassing them and killing them accomplishes any good past producing income for the Division of Wildlife Assets and giving enjoyment to a small variety of folks.
Kirk Robinson, Ph.D., is government director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, Salt Lake Metropolis.
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