Sunday, February 13, 2005

HUNTERS KILL GRIZZLIES & WOLVES

Defenders of Wildlife magazine stated (Defenders, Spring 2004) : "More than 100 wolves in Alaska had been killed under a state - sponsored predator control program. More shooting will probably follow, and bears will likely be next."

In May, 2005, the anti-conservation Alaskan Board of Game voted to expand the state’s barbaric aerial gunning program to include grizzly bears. Now, in addition to the hundreds of wolves already slaughtered, up to 81 bears could be killed this year.

"Alaska voters have twice rejected aerial wolf hunting in ballot issues, but Governor Frank Murkowski overturned the ban in June 2003. Officials from the Murkowski - appointed Alaska Board of Game subsequently approved the killing of 140 wolves in the state's Nelchina Basin, an 8,000 square-mile area about 100 miles northeast of Anchorage, and 40 wolves near the village of McGrath, in central Alaska. More recently, the board sanctioned the shooting of nearly 300 wolves in another 20,000 square miles of interior Alaska."

Conservationists say that aerial wolf hunting has no ecological justification. "This aerial gunning program is designed to artificially boost game populations, simply for the convenience of thousands of sport hunters who descend into rural Alaska every year," says Joel Bennett, a former member of the Alaska Board of Game and spokesman for Defenders. In March, the Alaska Board of Game adopted a policy that would also allow the state to haze or kill grizzly and black bears to increase moose and caribou numbers. Under the policy, state officials could authorize the relocation, sterilization, trapping, baiting and land-and-shoot hunting of bears . . ."

HUNTERS KILL YELLOWSTONE GRIZZLIES

A Dec. 29, 2004 Associated Press article stated that "some environmentalists are concerned about grizzlies in and around Yellowstone national Park, where run-ins with hunters accounted for nearly half the 19 grizzly bear deaths in 2004." Hunters acting in "self-defense" accounted for at least seven of the 19 human - caused grizzly deaths in the Yellowstone region this year the article said.

The article further related that "seven were hit by trains, ten were killed illegally, often shot and left to die. Thirteen were killed by wildlife officials because they had menaced humans or had otherwise become a nuisance. One was killed in self-defense."

You'll notice that it's hunters - not animal rights people or vegans - who are shooting grizzlies. These grizzly killings have been going on for at least thirty years. Hunters contrive these self - defense stories as another justification for killing more animals. We've all heard the tired stories about coyotes killing livestock and prairie dogs invading ranches, and how they must be controlled. Every animal killer has used similar, worn - out rationales, resulting in untold misery for countless animals.

For decades, and into 2004, hunters and outfitters have shown a penchant for shooting, killing and menacing grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Only, 1,000 of the reclusive bears are barely thriving in the lower 48 states where they are listed as a threatened species.

Experts believe that the annual deaths of only five or six females in a population of 500 could trigger a sharp decline.This is because grizzlies are among the slowest mammals to reproduce in North America. But none of this concerns hunters in the Greater Yellowstone area where 400 to 600 grizzlies live. An Associated Press article (Sept. 30, 2000) stated that the number of
grizzlies killed by hunters has risen from about two deaths on average each year to five.

According to the book "Ghost Bears" and bear experts, roads are the major threat to grizzlies. Roads which are built for logging or other resource extraction, displace bears while increasing the likelihood of hunters and poachers killing the animals. Numerous studies bear this out. In the longest running research project on the effects on grizzlies from logging and mining exploration and other developments, two researchers found hunting and poaching that resulted from road access to be the number one cause of death in the animals they were working with.

The removal of even a single grizzly bear can have a serious biological impact on a particular bear population. If hunters shoot a female, that one squeeze from an itchy trigger finger can eliminate a crucial breeding component of a wildlife population that is not easily, if ever, replaced.

Yellowstone Park ranger Bob Jackson said in a Los Angeles Times interview (Dec. 15, 1999) that Yellowstone's Thorofare region is "under seige." Unscrupulous hunters and outfitters operate just outside the park's sanctuary in the adjoining Teton Wilderness. Jackson said dozens of illegal salt licks have been set up by hunters to lure elk out of the safety of Yellowstone Park. After the elk are shot, grizzlies - who can smell dead flesh over a mile away - wander into heavily armed hunting camps or they surprise solo hunters. Predictably, the unfortunate bears are then shot in "self defense."

The L.A. Times article further relates that the majority of the 250 known grizzly bear deaths in the Yellowstone region over the last 20 years had occurred at the hands of hunters operating just outside the park's sanctuary.

Typically, the bears are shot during "surprise" encounters with hunters who are stalking legal prey such as elk or bighorn sheep. Even the most ecologically illiterate hunter should know that leaving venison around a camp will attract bears, and probably flies too.

Most Americans do not consider luring trophy elk from Yellowstone with salt baiting, or shooting grizzlies to be acceptable, responsible or necessary behavior. It is not even necessary to allow any hunting in these areas. Hunters represent only five percent of the U.S.population, so why not restrict them to five percent of public lands ? The reclusive, legendary bears need large areas of solitude and wilderness to survive. Yet, some politicians, hunters and ranchers want to re-establish a grizzly bear hunting season. There goes the wilderness.

Most people, including me, will agree that saving grizzlies is far more important than the needs of hunters, ranchers and outfitters who destroy wildlife. Ecologically insensitive hunters who lure bears into their blood-soaked hunting camps are NOT providing solitude or safety for these rare, almost mythological creatures.

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