February 3, 2023

The Polar/Grizzly Bear Uproar

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On April 27, 2006 I brought you the story of an American, Jim Martell, who went on a polar bear hunt into the far reaches of the Northwest Passage of Canada. He shot a bear that turned out to be a half-breed – half polar bear and half grizzly bear. Soon thereafter, we retrieved some photos released by the Associated Press of the bear and the hunter and posted them for you to see as well.

Since the original story we have received a few comments, some of which are a bit less than desireable to share with the general viewing audience. It is clear that the majority of responses are from people opposed to hunting and their opinions are certainly acceptable and respected. I can’t say they feel the same way toward us and hunters in general.

I completely understand, as I have been in this Internet business for quite some time now, that it is much easier to spout off daring and accusatory statements and even resort to making threats when you can hide behind just a name. I am curious as to how many of those who made comments would share so eloquently with others if they were face to face.

Here’s a comment made by reader Brian. Not that the comment is really directed toward the topic at hand but an interesting observation nonetheless.

I am still confused as to why they let americans into canada to hunt our bears…i say no more bear hunting untill they pay us our softwood lumber money!!!

I censored the last two words of his comment. I wonder if Brian would still feel the way he does if Americans did the same to the Canadians?

One reader’s comments suggested they would fine the guy for his actions but that he wanted the hide. Another tries to oversimplify the case saying that if the bear wasn’t white he shouldn’t have shot it. This is true. Now we actually have someone who is asking or commenting on things that actually matter.

But the one comment that has stuck out so far is this one.

If I had my way, Jim Martell would bw as dead as that rare creature he mercilessly killed. Perhaps I should hire a headhunter for $50,000 to find his sorry self, shoot him, then pose by the picture.

Al Shapeton is the maker of the comment. I must warn you though, his comments were quite a bit longer than what I have copied here. At first glance I thought the responder was Al Sharpton, the civil rights activists, you know, the Rev. Sharpton. I guess the comments could very well have been his too.

Shapeton calls hunters – well, he refers to “us” as “you folks”, so I assume he means hunters in general – not human. Therefore his logic says that because we are not human we can be slaughtered by hunters too.

The biggest chuckle came in his threat to “leave the substantial proceeds of my will to them (PETA)”. Now that’s reason enough to stop. Money will do anything.

But, I have a suggestion for Mr. Shapeton of what he should do with his money. After reading through his comment, I think he should invest it in some classes on writing, spelling and basic grammar.

Maggie comments on the story saying she is doing a debate on this article. Here’s her comment/question – which by the way, I hope she pays closer attention in English class.

Hi~ im doing a debate on this article for a school project.. Im just wondering… well.. the guy was a hunter rite? so he hunts for a living and was liscensed to do so.. (there for the $50,000 lincense) he didnt know that it was a mix breed..
if he did.. he deserved the jail.. or .. alot more fine then the 1000 or whatever it was..

but if he realli didnt know .. does everyone still think he should go to jail or be fined??

Thank you for the comment/questions Maggie. Let’s clarify some things for you Maggie. Because Mr. Martell paid $50,000 to go on a hunt, doesn’t necessarily make him a “professional hunter”. It does say that he is probably a fairly wealthy man. Also, the license didn’t cost him $50,000. That was the estimated cost of the trip, supplies, guides, etc. that are involved in making a hunt of this kind.

But make no mistake about it, Maggie, anyone who goes on a hunt of any kind is responsible for the target they are shooting at. So to answer your question, when Mr. Martell decided to pull the trigger, he and he alone is responsible for the end result.

According to the laws where Martell was hunting, he broke no laws. It is my understanding that had DNA tests showed that the bear was more grizzly than polar, he would have been charged. So, under the circumstances, Mr. Martell has not broken any laws.

But let’s examine something a bit closer. First let me clarify that I was not there. I am only writing on information available to me the same as any other person. The original story that I read said that, I don’t recall if this was a direct quote of Martell’s or not, when Martell saw the bear he hesitated to shoot. It was not until after his guide told him to shoot that he did. To add to the story, it was the end of his hunt as well and he was thinking he might be going home without getting his bear. This may or may not have affected whether he should pull the trigger. These are all things to think about.

Once again, I remind readers, the end result is Martell broke no laws BUT, I think he was a lucky man. He hesitated for some reason and perhaps that reason was because he wasn’t 100% sure it was a polar bear. It is easy for me to sit here and write that he shouldn’t have pulled the trigger. Other than in the zoo, the only polar bears I’ve seen are on the coke commercials.

There is always good that happens in everything if we look hard enough for it. Two things good may happen here. The first is obvious. Mr. Martell should learn a valuable lesson. Things could have just as easily gone the other way and found himself in a cell and paying a fine. Yes, the reader is right that commented that a $1000 fine wouldn’t hurt Martell but a little jail time might have.

The other thing that actually may benefit us all to some degree is the fact that the stoppage of the dispersion of a mixed species may have happened. Biologists have already voiced concern that a continuation of interbreeding between grizzlies and polars could be devastating to the polar bear species. Scientists don’t know if this bear had siblings or not. I suppose time will tell.

Maggie, I hope I have helped to answer some of your questions and given you some insight in the event. You have picked a good subject to debate because this one is not black and white or maybe I should say, brown and white. You also deserve an “A” already because you haven’t called anyone bad names or threatened their lives.

Tom Remington