May 27, 2023

Rhetorical Nonsense From Anti Bear Hunters

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There were a couple of editorial comments found in the Bangor Daily News on March 13 where a certain explanation should be made concerning opinions and rhetoric.

The first opinion comment said that if the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) thinks “to feed them [bear] jelly doughnuts, have dogs treeing them, and use traps” is scientific, then he would have to question MDIFW’s “science or lack of same.”

I suppose depending upon a person’s definition of “scientific”, I don’t think Randy Cross (MDIFW bear biologist) or anyone else at the department thinks there is much “science” in how bears get harvested; no more than the “science” behind how deer or moose or any other game animal gets harvested. How the harvest takes place is through the selection of tools, combined with public safety assessments, needed to keep a population of game species within healthy and manageable numbers. Determining what the healthy populations in specific regions of the state, aided by all of the ongoing bear studies and those from other education and research facilities, is SCIENCE!

The second opinionated comment is nothing more than rhetorical parroting rooted in ignorance. First was this opinion, of which the author is certainly entitled to: “cruel, unsporting, unnecessary practices of baiting, trapping and hounding.” Most people do not agree with this statement.

The rest are merely lies that cannot be substantiated and mostly founded in lies being perpetuated by media and the head of this upcoming referendum, the Humane Society of the United States.

The lies are:

1. “How can anyone believe that leaving a 300-pound bear stuck in a 2½-inch ankle snare for a day of extreme pain is acceptable?”
Answer: This person is completely ignorant of anything to do with trapping a bear.

2. “…that letting a pack of dogs attack a mama bear and her cubs is acceptable?”
Answer: This person is completely ignorant of anything to do with bear hunting with hounds.

3. “When bear baiting was banned in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, the bear population stabilized.”
Answer: Not true. This is unproven and unsubstantiated claims made by the anti bear hunting zealots in those regions. The truth is that now that a considerable amount of time has elapsed since the banning of hounds, bear numbers are growing and is posing problems in certain areas. These problems come and go depending upon circumstances on the ground, i.e. weather, availability of natural food, etc. There exist similar problems now with mountain lions after hounding of lions was banned.

4. “Interestingly, in Maine, the bear population began to increase shortly after bear baiting began.”
Answer: False! Once upon a time, the black bear in Maine was considered nothing more than a nuisance. In fact, for many years, even dating back to the 1700s, bounties were readily paid to hunters and trappers for killing as many bears as they could. These bounties lasted in some regions until as late as the 1940s, perhaps 1950s. It was after the establishment of a state fish and game department and the decision to begin seeing bears as a game animal, did the population of bears begin to increase.

Today, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife conducts extensive bear studies and has become the envy of many in North America. I believe that if this person did a little work instead of repeating the nonsense they have been told, they would also discover that it was a point in bear management that the MDIFW realized there were getting to be too many bears. (Note to the first commenter: MDIFW used science to determine there were too many bears and how many presented problems.) It was not too long after that baiting bears was implemented for the purpose of increasing the bear harvest in order to keep bears healthy in their habitats and not become a problem socially, i.e. public safety.

5. “A diet of doughnuts, pizza and grease fattens female bears, leading to more cubs in the den.”
Answer: Not true. As I have requested from others who make such claims, “Show me the science.” There is none. There are many theories but science has never been able to prove this claim about the specificity of effects on bears from eating donuts. The fact is, if there are any natural effects on bears in contributing the how many cubs will be born, the number of influencing factors are so great, no one item can be held accountable for any of the claims being made about baiting bears.

Besides, if there are 35,000 estimated bears in Maine, and that number is more than likely a low estimate, how many of those bears are the recipients of Dunkin’ Donuts?

6. “this type of junk-food diet can cause bears’ teeth to rot.”
Answer: Let’s see the science on this, where a few days out of the year, eating junk food causes teeth to rot in bears.

Another fallacy that I’m surprised this writer did not bring up when writing about how bear populations “stabilized” out West. That is the lie about how the number of bear hunting licenses increased. The lie being perpetuated here is that prior to the banning of bear hounding, there was not a single “bear hunting license.” With the new law the fish and game agencies created a new “bear hunting license.” Therefore, the number of bear hunting license sales did increase from zero to how ever many licenses were sold. But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good hateful, un-American agenda.

I’d like to end this article by bringing your attention back to the second opinion writer’s comment about Gandhi: “in Mahatma Gandhi’s words: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.””

I am assuming this person finds this nation’s way of treating our animals as unacceptable from their perspective of what “moral progress” is. And just exactly how, in their weak minds, should animals be treated?

I would also like to point out something that a man, whom many people think was a great man, perhaps a greater man than Gandhi in some people’s eyes, did as a statesman and representative of the United States while abroad many years ago.

Thomas Jefferson was tasked with traveling to Europe to find business and trade partners after the Revolutionary War. As he traveled from town to town seeking reliable, decent, trustworthy and yes, perhaps even “moral[ly] progress[ive]” people, he had a routine before attempting to conduct any business with residents of any town he went to in which he had never been.

Jefferson would scope the town to seek out the highest vantage point; often a church steeple. He would climb to the top and survey the village and the landscape. Once he accomplished that, he would walk about the village observing the people going about their normal, everyday routines.

And with all of this, I suppose in much the same way as Gandhi stood judge and jury over a nation by how it treated it’s animals, Jefferson had a judgement of his own in which he never varied from. If he determined any town was mostly full of people who treated their animals better than the humans, he left that town refusing to engage in any business with them on the conclusion that such people were of poor character and unreliable.

Do you suppose Gandhi and Jefferson would have gotten along?