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They killed my bear

They killed my bear. Of course I know that he’s not my bear; he’s the forests’ bear. But I have a study site in this bear’s territory and have spent much of the last three summers with this bear in an aspen grove that is part of his territory.

Our numerous close-up encounters have been one of the biggest delights of these summers. He’s (she?) raided my small mammal live-traps for the oats that I use as bait and he completely cleans out the bait on my mesopredator track plates ? all of his activities have given me a huge smile.

We first met when he was a cub accompanied by his mother. The next summer we met again when he was a very healthy and inquisitive yearling. This third season we had our first personal encounter, although I’d had ample sign of his presence throughout the summer.



I was quietly setting a track plate when a loud crack caused me to look up to see him a mere seven meters away. He “whoofed” a few times while I quietly kept my place, kneeling on the forest floor. After two or three minutes he calmly moved off into his forest.

I saw my bear again later last summer, cut into pieces, and being packed out of the forest by three hunters ? three young men from Wisconsin.




As a biologist I’m supposed to remain objective regarding issues such as hunting. As a biologist I feel that I also have a responsibility to apply my understanding of life to conserving what is left of the natural world.

The Division of Wildlife would have us believe that wildlife has to be “managed” by humans. One of their primary strategies to manage wildlife is hunting.

Through millions of years of evolution, ecosystems have been fine-tuned so that the wildlife communities were ultimately sustainable, all the while without human interference. Only when humans came into the world picture and disrupted the dynamic balances that had been achieved through millions of years of evolution was “human management” made necessary.

Can hunting, as envisaged and practiced by current government bureaucracy, achieve a healthy and sustainable ecosystem? Their own results shout a resounding no.

My observations tell me no. The forest sustains the bear, and in a reciprocal way the bear helps to sustain the forest. The system is incomplete without the bear. The ecosystem is not sustainable without the bear.

The bear embodies the life of the forest. The bear brought beauty and life to the forest. The hunters brought arrogance, horror and destruction.

Delia G. Malone

Aspen


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